Life trudges along parallel threads for most men. They have either made up their own minds or someone has done it on their behalf. At one point, they’ve decided to head north or south, east or west. Then they marched on. Subsequently, there are those who had gone astray and followed diverging paths leading nowhere in particular. With the passage of time, they were left with a bitter existential aftertaste and perhaps no more. Could it be that the uncommitted and ambivalent deserve an ambiguous present, and on a more proufound inference, an uncertain future? What am I in the grand scheme of life? Who is to answer this question without drawing bitter tears to my eyes or instigating a fit of hysterical laughter, one that will echo endlessly within the dark maze of my nocturnal essence.
The choices we inexplicably make mature into experiences and later age into memories. As long as I am willing to tackle another challenge, to climb yet one more step, I chance on crossroads and follow my instinct or perhaps trail after an educated guess. Once I abandon my quest, however, like a rivulet of water, the hypnotic downhill path is inevitable. All of them roads, the well-traveled and the obscure, the scenic and the dull, the glorious and the shameful ultimately lead to death. Is that why we humans tend to think so much about the next world since by all counts life is but a short journey? Will anyone ever answer the eternal question: did we make it all up or is it real?
There's more to the month of Ramadan than the fasting, the praying, the devout rituals and the inevitable gluttony and feasting. Of the prescribed rites I have only committed myself to fasting. I have never found it easy to fast. I normally drink a minimum of 3 liters of water per day. Whether thirsty or not, a cold bottle of water is my constant companion. I even have severe doubts concerning the bodily benefits of fasting, in particular as related to water deprivation. I wholly believe that, on the physiological level, thirst is a sign of eminent danger. My productivity at work is greatly reduced. I become easily irritated and my attention span is diminished to almost zero. For most of the day I resign to the terrible and annoying burden of waiting. After breaking fast, I feel even worse, my stomach being glutted with solid food and fluid. Yet I find solace in the long arduous hours of self-denial, comfort in the brief fleeting moments of reflection.
On the deepest of levels, I am like this year-round. I’m not a pious man and religion, organized institutionalized religion in particular, gets on my nerve. I don’t accept it in its literal manifestation but tolerate the general idea of goodwill to mankind. I loathe preaching in any form, I resent indoctrination, abhor the self-righteousness of devotees and fear the rising tide of religiosity. But I never find it within me not to fast in Ramadan. In a way, fasting is my only physical, truly private expression of faith. And despite being a restless soul, in the vast blackness of space within the recesses of my inner universe, one light among my Pleiades emanates from a star of supreme belief.
I see no reason to live if I’m not fully alive. There’s a burning fire inside, fueling on a geographical and chronological fidelity to a mystical place and time, feeding on unbending loyalty to friends and the good times, shining on the hunt for the unknown, glowing with the exhilaration of a ride on a twisty mountain road, blazing on passion for beautiful women and beaming with love and dedication to my family.
I also see no reason to live if my vanity is not subdued by my private notion of faith. I have rejected trekking along a railroad track that could only reach a predetermined destination. I have as well abandoned the delusion of sauntering in an open desert without a compass in hand. My chosen path is shunned at from believers and agnostics. It’s an inacceptable compromise to both, a shortcut leading to a cul-de-sac at best. Yet I persist and when the moment comes and I can’t walk no more, I will look behind from wherever I happen to be and lip-sing with Frank Sinatra: “I did it my way”.