You know you've been fasting a while when you start having dreams about feeling guilty for eating carrots.
I'm nearing the halfway point of Ramadan and starting to get a bit burned out. I'm sick of being hungry; that's part of it. But I'm also tired of feeling antisocial. It's no fun eating by myself. And when I get up in the dark to eat an early breakfast I feel like sneaky binger. The one welcome exception was Monday evening, when my friend Kristin (who has lived in various middle-eastern countries and speaks Arabic) invited me to iftar with her family and her Muslim friend Luda from Syria. Iftar is the traditional meal to break fast and is usually celebrated by feasting with family and friends. (Unless you're a wacky Mormon usurping the Muslim holiday and then you usually celebrate it by eating cold leftovers alone at the kitchen table.)
Kristin had slaved all day to make some delicious Arabic dishes and Luda brought homemade Syrian food as well (sorry I didn't write down the names of the dishes; I was too busy eating). Ever the generous guest, I ran to the supermarket and bought a package of dates.
It was a privilege to meet Luda and I took advantage of the opportunity and asked her a good portion of my list of questions about the Muslim faith. I suspect I'll write about some of our conversation later. She was a lovely woman, very Western in appearance, but obviously committed to her religion even though she is essentially isolated in Utah Valley and prays at home by herself rather than attending the small local mosque.
One thing Luda said has me even more discouraged. When I admitted that I've been drinking water during the day (because I'm still running or walking 4 miles almost every day and I know I would suffer from serious headaches if I didn't drink any water) she said, "Oh, water is the most important part of the fast." So not only am I a total poser. I'm also a total cheater.
Kristin also told me it's a well-known fact that people gain weight during Ramadan. This has to be a cruel joke. Please tell me it's because they are indulging for hours after sunset (which I'm not doing), not because they are totally throwing their metabolisms out of whack by starving themselves all day and then eating right before bed (which I am doing). If I gained weight after feeling this hungry all the time, that would just be too harsh.
But I can say that I do feel, for the first time in many months, like I have some self-control when it comes to food. That's a cool thing. And I enjoy sitting in the dark of the pre-dawn mornings meditation/praying/listening to my own heartbeat. This is a rare gift. And food really does better when you have to wait for it for 15 hours. Even carrots.