Monday, July 12, 2010

Hunger Strikes

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

Ramadan begins next month so a good thirty dates are ahead to make up the days of sawm (fasting) that I missed during my pregnancy with Siraj. As I continue to struggle through my ritual prayers, sawm is something that I easily embrace. While my non-Muslim friends and relatives may find it surprising that I will forego food and drink (even water) during dawn to dusk, I assuredly look forward to feeling the intensity of re-awakening my consciousness, deepening my appreciation, and purifying my spirituality.

And so, with today being my first day of fasting in more than a year, my throat is indeed parched and my stomach is undeniably rumbling but my mind is at last wonderfully clear. I don’t know how long it has been since I have stopped listening to my own consciousness. There is a clarity and solace in not occupying yourself with weighing the options for the next meal. I don’t need to second guess my cravings for espresso when I know deep down that I am a loyal tea drinker. The freedom from walking to pick up lunch lets me actually respond to my emails at a respectable clip instead. But it is about more than these mere conveniences.

I realize how much useless avoidance and procrastination snacking has allowed me. I laugh to think that suddenly my candy dish is shouldering all of the blame for my unfinished work. But seriously, towards mid-day I wasn’t even terribly hungry and yet I realize I would have ingested more calories than I can dare admit to here. All of those dietary indiscretions aren’t just about the additional weight I carry but are indicative of how often I don’t listen to myself. If I wasn’t hungry, why was I even eating? Why am I so quick to turn on Pandora and drown out my thoughts? What have I been feebly trying to avoid?

It feels good to enjoy the silence again. But I feel guilty to describe my hunger pains when I know there will be plenty of satisfying options for me come dusk. However, how much more painful is hunger when dusk doesn’t bring any relief?

And this is the crux where I stop hurrying about my life and blindly fulfilling my physical needs to start remembering what it is like to nourish my humanity.

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