The beginning of Ramadan is always one of my favorite times of the year.  For the numerous flaws I could name in regards to ‘social media’, one of its benefits for me (this week and the next month especially), is in this cyber form of fellowship that’s taken place.  Beyond what I have here in town, it’s been nourishing to trade ideas and tips, and just sense the general excitement that comes from a community getting ready to go through a common experience.

The period of time from my last Ramadan to this one, I can say without hesitation I’ve undergone more personal and professional upheaval than I have in at least a decade.  I don’t necessarily believe that every one of us has to hit rock bottom before we reach a stage of ‘rebirth’, but I do understand why people say that.  I’ve had to deal with more stress than I would wish on my worst enemy, and here I am on the other end of it, staring down the life I’ve wanted for a long time…

Not too long ago, I was having a conversation with a close friend of mine.  His daughter is reaching school age, and I know through the time I’ve spent with her that she’s really smart.  So I asked him if she’s been tested yet to see if she was gifted.  I went through that program myself at a very early age, and I relayed to him that gifted kids, if they’re not sufficiently challenged, can get bored and complacent (and as a result, not fully take advantage of their ‘gift’.)  Then I had to think about the advice I had given, and reflect on how implicitly and explicitly I’ve heard that more than once in adulthood…

And that became the seed.  Like a lot of people, I had the reliable excuse of ‘not enough time’ if my to do list wasn’t getting chopped down fast enough.  When that no longer was a suitable excuse, I called one of my brothers and told him it was time to start giving me lessons in Arabic.  Some basic words and phrases I was familiar with because I’ve been reciting them five times a day for most of my life, but I’ve been turned on but how little I really knew.  And I’m aware ‘turned on’ is normally used exclusively in a sexual context, but that’s really the best phrase to describe what’s happened since.  I get homework, I can’t possibly finish in a day, usually I can’t finish it in a week.

The overall ‘feeling’ of that has carried into everything else.  Everyone who knows me in ‘real life’ knows I am as laid back as they come, but like any other man, when there is something I’m passionate about, I detest the feeling of losing.  (And I’m not blind to the fact that I’ve spent less of my time doing things out of obligation and more because I really want to get better at it).  So, going into Ramadan and beyond, the mantra that I say to myself and all of my mentors is simply, ‘Put me in a position where there’s a chance I might fail’ (not to be confused with the self-destructive ‘Put me in a position to fail’.)

So as noted, I’m improving at reading and writing Arabic. My neighbors have grown accustomed to my daily guitar strumming to the point they think I’m striving to be a professional musician.  My 20 year old sci fi idea is now being transformed into my first television pilot.  I’m fully committed to pushing my God given abilities, my intellect, the skills I’m passionate about to the highest level I possibly can.  I have no idea how plausible my endgame/ultimate goal is but…there’s only one way to find out.   (Cue Batman joke here).

In the past I’ve used Ramadan to ‘fast’ from social media; I won’t completely disappear this year but I imagine I’ll be around less.  Or possibly a different side of my identity will be more visible this month.

To be continued…

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