Many friends have treated me with awe and unofficially inducted themselves as my cheerleaders since I began this experiment with Ramadan. They comment on Facebook statuses, on links, on these blog posts, in person, when my blood sugar is low and my body is about to steer itself to the nearest bakery. They listen, they support. If it weren’t for their patience and steadfast willingness to provide me advice on nutrition, on rest, on willpower, I wouldn’t have made it this far.
If I were without cheerleaders, without the “stay strong!” several times a day, without, how far would I get into Ramadan? Less than 2 weeks? A week? 2 days, and no more?
This blog is my accountability. That still doesn’t explain why I don’t just buy a croissant at Prêt à Manger and scarf it down in the bathroom at work when I need—or think I need—that extra calorie boost. Yet, as many people know, I’m an incredibly honest person (perhaps too much at times). And by making my honest commitment publicly, I’m all the more motivated to think yes, that I could finish this, that it doesn’t matter how much my insides wince with emptiness or my throat coils with drought. If there are people counting on me, I can do it.
Solitude is what would make me the culprit. I would find it far easier to cheat on myself than to cheat other people’s expectations. Yes, there’s something worth in exposing a 30-day experience with Ramadan that involves hilarity and discovery all in one, but the real beauty lies in maintaining a fast for 30 days without telling anyone. In publicizing to my 3+ social media platforms that I am doing Ramadan, I am ensuring that the “punishment” for me not fulfilling Ramadan is mild ridicule as opposed to awe or respect.
Negative reinforcement shouldn’t play such a large role in what I’ve consistently considered as one of the leading causes for my personal spirituality. But with there being a blog based precisely on my experience—with search engine-optimized tags to help put it higher on Google’s hits—there’s only so much solitary spiritual reflection I can undergo without the eyes of the world bearing down on it.
I’ve therefore decided that, should I ever break the fast—be it because I get sick, get on the rag, or other valid reasons to break it—I won’t write an apocalyptic post about how horrible it is to have broken the fast and ugh why couldn’t I have waited further and all that jazz. I will discuss my motivations for breaking the fast, and even if I don’t fast a day after that, I will still make a few minutes out of every day a time to think on the nooks and crannies of my mind, my strength replenished for having returned to normal eating habits. I will think in solitude that no fasting would provide, and distill some of my five cents into my blog post but hold back a bit—the less information when I press “publish,” the less likely I will do something just to impress as opposed to doing it for myself.
It’s not a foolproof method to stop others from making my adherence to Ramadan—at least, diet-wise—the spotlight, but, at least this year, it would be the closest I could get to solitary transformation.
But, I would be remiss to forget that Ramadan is a community ritual. I may want to make it a solely individual ritual and underestimate the value of fasting out in the open, where others can keep you accountable, but I must acknowledge that fasting in a community is not a spiritual weakness. True character can make or break out in the open as much as in the isolation of one’s room, log cabin, or top of the mountain. More on this later—I must cut my thoughts short and catch up fully, once and for all, with my blog posts.