Notes from the Wastelands: Fasting and Forgiveness

I will be the first to admit that fasting and forgiveness are not topics for mid-July. This is normally done and tackled during Lent. There is something about turning a year older and finally embracing middle age rebellion that compels me to entertain such musings “off season”. To hell with tradition and socially prescribed behaviour! I will fast when I want, need and can. This year I was not at all inclined to do so during Lent, since I felt strongly about the pandemic and social distancing being an extended fast and form of unwarranted penance already.

I have to admit that watching the EURO 2020 final and the disastrous fall out that ensued was not how I had envisioned spending my birthday evening. Nevertheless, I felt it would be terribly remiss of me not to watch it and be able to voice an opinion as a witness and not form an opinion simply based on the news or God forbid, social media. There is a lot to take away or be appalled about as far this particular EURO Championship is concerned, and none of it has to do with the game itself. For once I had a little more sympathy and respect for the German sports press as compared to the British one, a sentiment that does not often happen. There is no trace of sportsmanship or empowerment / upliftment of the athlete left, with the results having been turned inside out and manipulated into a viciously racist arena. It’s disgusting and ushers forth unmitigated damage to the dignity of athletes. in other words, with fans like that, who needs athletes at all? Might as well just close down all sports arenas and stadiums to keep the public out, and let athletes be themselves in the purest form, without all the booing and heckling from the bleachers. The behaviour at Wembley was simply disgraceful. Sportsmanship seems to be a concept that has been guillotined by fans and spectators, completely forgetting that in every game or match there has to be a winner and a loser. I for one mourn the death of this noble concept, and wonder whether the England’s losing was a well-deserved slap in the face to the fans who could not keep it together.

In any case, this got me thinking about the concept of forgiveness and how much I have struggled with it over the years. Having been raised in the Catholic faith, forgiveness is a fundamental and paramount concept that was drilled into my body and soul probably since conception. My parents took it to the extreme and raised me a very conservative concept of forgiveness, which I now regret. I was taught to forgive and forced to constantly turn the other cheek, and because I was raised to be the obedient Asian daughter, to suck it all up, to suppress all argumentative notions, not to stand my ground. In short, to be bloody family doormat that everyone trampled on. It didn’t help that I looked different and had to put up with a lot of sneering and other such adolescent social incompetence. Forgive and forget I was told, or to simply shut up and move on. This consequently led to me perfecting the art of walking away, and boy I’ve gotten really good at that. It took abusive relationships to make me realise the value to fighting and voicing out my objections, and three years of therapy to forgive the little girl inside of me for never speaking up.

Wastelands ©FrogDiva Photography

Birthdays are eerie and do strange things to the mind. Coupled with over 45 days of insomnia, I scribble down some thoughts about forgiveness, particularly forgiving myself.

Wasteland

for holding on to the ghosts 
for believing the wrong things about myself 
for being swept away and not knowing how to pull on the brakes 
for listening to the wrong voices 
for not trusting my instinct 
for allowing my soul to be trampled on so ruthlessly 
for not showing fear 
for believing that I had to be strong all the time 
for not loving the woman in the mirror 
for not saving the little girl within my soul 
for not speaking up 
for enduring the abuse 
for silencing the voice
I forgive my Self.

For making desolation my lover
for allowing self-deprecation to become my best friend
for all the pain, confusion and emptiness that blurred into a single evil 
I forgive my Self.


– MTHerzog, Berlin 2021

In the spirit of wandering through the wasteland I have embarked on a week-long fast. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now, but never really plucked up the conviction or disposition. I haven’t done this in several years and I was concerned I would succumb within 12 hours. But the absence of solid food from my body has triggered some dormant thoughts and galvanised me back to writing.

Wastelands can’t be all that bad.

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