Tuesday, July 23, 2013

On Fig Awareness & Summer Ramadans…

Dear Old Readers, Potential New Readers, & Occasional Passers By,

Welcome to a new blog post by Academic Mommy!

Apologies for the long pause….

Believe it or not, a single fig was my inspiration to write this entry, after a long period of silence. Here is how:

As some of you might know, Ramadan started on July 10th this year. For obvious reasons, July & August are the least convenient months for a person to starve oneself for one’s God. But your humble author is trying her best anyway…

I’m just hoping there is extra credit for fasting 17 hours a day in the summer, as opposed to the shorter and cooler days of the winter. But we’ll negotiate that bridge when we get there J

Even before Ramadan started, my body was at the brink of collapse. Nonstop teaching throughout the year was beginning to take its toll. More often than not, I was forgetting my keys, my cell phone, or was “misplacing” my glasses, purse or even my car!... Fasting only helped increase the frequency of such mishaps.

Ramadan added novel incidents to my usual list of lost/forgotten items. For instance one time, I went through most of the day as if it were Thursday. At 4:50 pm, my students popped into my office with puzzled faces, and told me that it was actually Wednesday. Turns out, I was 20 mins. late for my 4:30 pm class on Wednesday!!!

Of course the professor should never look like an idiot, so I snapped back at them, saying why did they not come & check up on me earlier... On the bright side, next day was really Thursday, and it felt like I lived Thursday twice!

Despite all these little troubles that are probably caused by low blood sugar, the purpose of this writing is not to portray a doom & gloom picture of Ramadan. In fact, it is very much the opposite.

Here is why I still enjoy fasting, even when it might be extra taxing on my body during the long summer days:

·      Ramadan is a break away from everyday routines: During this month, food and socialization around food are no longer ordinary things. You don’t eat during most of the day, and when you break your fast in the evening, it becomes a pleasurable moment to share with friends, relatives and such…
This year I enjoyed wonderful meals with old & new friends, as well as with relatives. Moreover, because you can only eat at night, Ramadan lends itself to wonderfully long discussions enjoyed with  delicious desserts, fruit, and in my case, lots of tea. No wonder why many people end up gaining weight during this month J

·      Ramadan makes you appreciate what you have: This is where the famous fig on the title comes in. Honestly, that juicy fig I had after long hours of fasting tasted like the most marvelous fruit I’ve ever had in my life. Depriving your senses for a while might have the effect of sharpening them. Please don’t have sinister smiles of your face right now… This may not be true for everything, but at least for food, I think there is definitely greater awareness of our taste buds, after fasting all day.

·      Ramadan is for empathy. At least this is what I learned from my family, and it is what I’d like to pass along to my little son. At the age of abundance and instant gratification, it is even harder to develop some sort of solidarity with the less fortunate. This is why the true meaning of Ramadan is not about withholding food from your mouth. More importantly, it is about empathy and charity.

·      Ramadan is to disciple your body & soul. There was a famous phrase in one of the Rocky movies: “mind over body!” I think we all aspire to do this, one way or another. Some people get up at 6 am and run for 10 miles!.. I admire them greatly, but am afraid this is not my cup of tea. I feel like my kidneys are about to fall off, when they bounce that hard. However, fasting is my way of exercising mental control over my body. I feel very much in charge and alive when fasting. Believe it or not, I even attended a couple of power lunches during Ramadan with people who didn’t fast, and was not one bit bothered!... They had their meals, and I did my networking. Everyone was content... After all, my freedom to religious exercise should not be such an inconvenience for others who don't observe. 

Please sit back and try to enjoy an ordinary moment in your life during these freakishly hot summer days. It could be a fruit, or an ice-cold lemonade, or beer. Whatever it is, I hope it’d bring you as much happiness as my little fig.

Wishing you a pleasant summer,

Academic Mommy

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