Ramadan starts on August 22nd, and as a practicing Muslim, I shall be participating. No, wait, that's not quite right. I'm not a Muslim, but I'm going to observe Ramadan. Well, I'm going to observe the dietary part. The prayers? Not so much. Why would I want to do that? I'm not thinking of converting, am I?
Actually, this all started with an idea that I've been toying with for some time. As an atheist, I don't find myself following a lot of arbitrary rules. For the most part, that's a good thing. However, I think that there just might be something to following certain rituals - especially the ones that involve one having to make a bit of a sacrifice. Of course, I don't think that one should follow these rules to the point of ignoring reason. For instance, if you're Jewish and you're starving to death, and the only thing to eat is bacon - EAT THE BACON!!! (Not that I can imagine too many Jews doing this.) Still, there's probably something to making yourself sacrifice something and be a little bit more thoughtful about what you're putting in your body - especially when you live in a land of plenty.
My original idea was to start this gradually. I was going to go a month without eating meat on Fridays. That's easy enough. I figured that the following month, I'd go kosher. After that? I'd go devout Hindu and go vegetarian for a month. The coup de grace would be Ramadan, which requires that I don't eat from sunup to sundown. Also, if I'm going to really do it the way Muslims do, I'm also going to have to abstain from pork and alcohol. That's right - no beer for a month. (Yes, I'm aware that there are other things from which a Muslim must abstain during Ramadan. As I stated at the start, I'm just following the dietary rules.)
When I looked up when Ramadan is, I saw that it's starting on the 22nd. I figure that if I'm going to do this, it'll be more interesting to do it when Muslims are actually doing it. (Just as I plan on giving up something for Lent - whenever that is. Good thing I have the Internet to find this stuff out.) So, everything's probably going to be pretty easy after this (with the possible exception of Hindu month).
Surprisingly enough, my wife is on board for this little experiment. However, she drew the line at Ramadan. I really don't blame her, and honestly, I'm not going to be too hard on myself if this experiment ends in failure. My friends and I have a joke where if I don't eat for a while, I start to get "angry hungry". I'm a bit obsessive about things, and when I'm hungry, I get downright ornery. Still, I wonder if I tell myself from the start of the day that I can't eat until it gets dark, then maybe I can get over this flaw of mine.
Since I don't have the wrath of Allah to worry about, I'm not going to beat myself up if I fail at this one. One thing that I'll try to do is if it gets to be too much is that I'll scale back a little at a time. For instance, it's tougher to do Ramadan in August than it would be in December. Worse comes to worse, I'll go by winter hours and try that. If that doesn't work, maybe I'll allow myself a small snack during the day. Worse comes to worse, I can at least stick with the no alcohol rule. As a homebrewer and beer enthusiast, at least that's SOMETHING. (Oh, and I can also lay off the bacon.)
Obviously, this also gives me something to blog about. I'm going to admit at the start that I'm already going to blow it a bit, as my wife and I made plans with some friends to have Mexican food and margaritas on the 22nd. I figure that I can maybe skip lunch that day and do a half-assed Ramadan, but I'll try and go full-bore on the 23rd.
I don't want to be pessimistic, but I know myself pretty well to know that this is going to be really tough. Still, if I can do some sacrificing that I don't normally do, then I'll consider it to be a success.