24 July 2012

It's that time of year again.

Alright, guys, I know it’s been a while, so here we go. Round (insert sequential number here). Just as a forewarning, this post might be a bit sentimental or ‘preachy,’ (maybe?) but just go with it. I’ve got a lot to say about this one.

So, some of you may know that I’m five days into doing Ramadan for the second time in a row. I have gotten NUMEROUS questions from vols and locals alike asking me why the hell I’m doing this, for a second time, no less. Despite whatever answer I give them at the time, I always feel like it’s not enough for a reason for whomever is asking to comprehend why I’m willingly starving myself of food and water for thirty days (during daylight hours). Here are the reasons I come up with. They make sense to me, and I think that’s really all that matters, right?

-       I’ve always wanted to try it. Having learned about Islam and its culture for the past however many years, having lived in multiple places where Islam is the dominant religion, I had wanted to try to experience on of the pillars of the religion.
-       With that being said, in my head, taking part in Ramadan helps me integrate further into the Kyrgyz culture. In theory, Islam is the main religion of Kyrgyzstan. It might not be in practice (see: copious amounts of alcohol intake and smoking cigarettes), but for some people it is. By doing орозо, I am doing something that unites people. Also, I would like to think that by my doing this now, I have started conditioning myself for the ‘real deal’ when I get to the Middle East (inshaAllah).
-       It’s a respect thing. I might not get the respect from everyone I met that finds out I’m doing it, but those that do, it’s really gratifying to have that acknowledged. To have some people I hold in very high regard say to me ‘I’m incredibly impressed, and a bit confused as to why you’re doing this, but think it’s really admirable.’ I don’t know if that means I just need my own ego inflated every once in a while, but hey – I’m doing something physically and mentally tough, I deserve it sometimes, right?
-       The sense of accomplishment and pride after having done it is indescribable. To look back and think ‘Damn, I just went 30 days without eating and drinking during the day. And it’s been hot as balls. And I’ve done it while working a bunch of summer camps. Pat on the back for Hopkins.’ It is something I started, struggled through (oh, and did/am I strugglin’) and stuck with until the very end. Doesn’t happen often; not with something this big and important and low and behold, BAM!
-       Over the course of the month, I’m also given the chance to do a lot of reflection and so-called meditation. I can think about how this is the daily lives of people all over the world: they don’t get access to clean drinking water whenever they want (not even for sale); they don’t always have the ability to have three healthy meals a day; they don’t GET to willingly give up these things on a whim just to see if you can. How incredibly lucky and grateful am I to have all those things, even in Kyrgyzstan with the Peace Corps and how even luckier I am to have it all indefinitely back home?!

Right now, that’s all I’ve got. I’m sure there are more reasons somewhere in this addled brain of mine. But now I’m brain dead after workin’ on camp stuff all day without food or water. So, it’s off to rinse off in a cold shower (so reminiscent of Africa, which is fitting since Zarins is being a gem and visiting!) before crashing and burning. Gotta be up in a few hours.

Please know I’m thinking about you all every day. Hope you’re not dying of the heat and surviving your summers. For those of you about to get married or starting big adventures recently, I’m sending you all the best wishes and leg-breaking. Let me know what you all are up to these days? Who’s going to Lolla? With a sick line up like that, you’d be an idiot NOT to venture into Millennium Park for that! Still not speaking to Steph and Akash about their three-day tickets. I want to hear EVERYTHING about it.

Missing you all loads.