thoughts on the month of fast

Beirut, June 12 2016

I have planted sunflower and nasturtium seeds.

Not the most extravagant way to begin this post, but I shall accept it and linger no more on the fact that I have very diligently avoided this blog for the past month.

Last week, I returned from Paris, after what appears to be the last bout of freedom before the chains of corporate life settle around my wrists, and keep me steady in Beirut for the next few– well, for the next while, however chunky or significant it shall be. Let's just say that.

Also, I feel like words are escaping me. It seems to me that I have been away from them very long, and they have suddenly conspired to flee me.

Nevertheless, I am here now. The month of Ramadan started a few days ago, and mum and I have been cooking up storms in the kitchen every other day. It had been two years since I last fasted properly. Last year, the sun rose at 3:00 in the morning and set at 22:00 in Glasgow, which meant fasting for 18 hours straight whilst trying to write my dissertation, and I did not feel in any way compelled to do it. But the year before that was the year during which I had begun to question the legitimacy of fasting as a spiritual feat. Especially as I had, during that very year, begun to consume alcohol. The two just did not seem to go hand in hand. Alas, the two still do not go hand in hand, but I have come to accept these two duelling sides in my personality: the side that believes that being good and kind is not in any way related to (or dependent on) consuming alcohol, and the side that accepts religion as it is. As a spiritual undertaking that is born out of the desire to connect with the entity of the force that has created all that is, and all that exists, to be thankful for it, to understand the reasons why we do indeed fast and to just relish in how the spirituality of it all elevates you, and fulfils you.

But my attitude towards religion, lucid as it now may appear to be, is always subject to doubt. Doubt, which a blind immersion in religion, a blind belief in all that it encapsulates can alleviate, I know. But how can I walk past all that I have lived, how can I let go of things that seem so disconnected to the idea of being religious and spiritual, to the idea of being a virtuous human being. I cannot. I do not want to sacrifice things that I think of as needless to sacrifice. But I don't know. I don't really trust writing down all of this confusion here, lest it should fall in the wrong hands, or before the wrong eyes.

What I can accept, however, is that it will all be confusing, forevermore. And that as humans, no amount of science, and no amount of religion will ever be able to explain everything in full. It is our fatal flaw, this perpetual not knowing. I won't call it an ignorance for it is not one. It is just a state of questioning, always.

The gist of it all, is that this year, I am fully aware of the fact that I strongly wish to fast during the month of Ramadan, and that I am doing it wholeheartedly. Those who do not understand or who criticise, I suppose may never feel the glory of self restrain, of sacrifice, and then the glory that comes afterwards, when the first drop of water washes a dry, dry mouth upon the call of the muezzin at sunset. I hope that many families understand the notion that a sacrifice during the day does not justify a surreal amount of food consumption and waste in the evening. We sacrifice for a reason and it would be silly to think of all the actions we might sometimes do to counter this sacrifice. It all goes back to say how important moderation is. In everything.

*I just quickly re-read all that I have written above. It's filled with mysteries, I think. And contradictions. But that's okay.*

Enough talk about sacrifice and food. Although we could talk some more about food? I don't know.

Two weeks ago, while in Paris, I tried desperately to embody the prototype of the "wandering writer" but all I could muster was a "writer's block" and I failed the way I knew my miserable entitled ass would. Also, it rained endlessly, ropes and cats and dogs and giraffes and all that you will, and I hardly went to the park to lay down in the grass and read or write. So, I am back in Beirut now and I suppose that all that must be written shall be written here.

I do have a lot of tales to tell.

But I end this post here to begin a new one that shall detail all my (non-)Parisian adventures.


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