Thirty Days, Another Journey–Day 11

Another sick day, another fasting day lost. I have decided that there is little I can do at this point except what has always been true: my best. The best I can do is the best I can do. There’s freedom in that, should I choose to accept it. Most of Ramadan has passed me by without my active participation, neither in the fasting or the blogging about the fasting. Alas. I am positive there is a lesson in all of this for me. And while I haven’t worked it all out, I’m getting glimmers.

The intention counts a great deal, my friend J assured me. Ever the generous one, she has been my teacher and guide as I stumble my way along on this journey. I have no doubt that my friend A would say the same. I know intention counts, that sincerity and earnestness matter. But for some reason it doesn’t feel good enough in this case. Of course then I chide myself for my own internalized self-righteousness. Because I can’t do this “right,” I am a slacker, a loser. I was doing so well, and now have to count this whole Ramadan observance as a failure. As I look at it in those terms I have reached a conclusion: this is GREAT!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of failure–in fact, I am failure avoidant. I come from a long line of perfectionists for whom failure was/is not an option. As an African American woman I’ve had to come as close to perfection as I can lest I be stereotyped and judged unworthy by much of non-black society. Failure is simply not an option. And yet, in my observance of Ramadan this year, I have “failed.” Failed to fast, failed to do good deeds, failed, failed, failed. And yet somehow I am smiling at myself for being ridiculous.

The truth is that there is more than one way to do anything. I keep reading J’s words about intention and I know them to be true. It’s not about doing this perfectly, it’s about making the sincere effort to do something out of my ordinary, out of my comfort zone. This is not something to train for, like a marathon, but to get oneself in the frame of mind to honor someone else’s faith tradition. In that sense, I have been very, very successful.

I will stick it out, my Ramadan journey, through to the Eid al Fitr next Thursday/Friday. I probably won’t have a big feast and wear new, dressy clothes, and give presents to my loved ones, etc. I have partaken in the fast, but haven’t quite planned or prepared for the feasting and celebration that marks the end of the Holy month. Perhaps next year I’ll add that to my Ramadan experience–if I observe next year. (I say this every year about writing my lenten blog, and then every year I write it…)

I have one more non-fasting day tomorrow, as I allow my body one more day of recovering from a nasty cold. Then, it’s back to the fasting, which I can hopefully endure through the rest of the time. Or perhaps, I will “fail” at that too. Oh well. It definitely won’t be because I didn’t try. And at the end of the day, that’s saying something. And so it is.

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