Friday, 27 April 2012

Between Deaths



Last night on the box was a documentary drama on the experiences of a British journalist, Sean Langan  kidnapped by the Taliban. After the drama, there was an interview with the man himself. He now clearly values both his life and freedom far more than he once did. Hearing him talk about how he faced death, forced me to review my own experiences again. My friend Jeff lost his mother last week, I know how he feels just as others are facing that same awful waiting for loved ones to pass away. In the interview, he notes that it is impossible for anyone alive to believe in imminent death as you really have to believe you are about to die to understand.

I've been in situations where I might have been killed. I've had a gun pointed at me during a robbery in Thailand, been held at gun-point by scary secret police in Saudi and I've been attacked by angry Native American Indians in South Dakota. I could have been killed I suppose, but I never really believed it would happen. But at one point during my heart-attack, I was convinced I wasn't going to make it. By that point I'd already had several attacks, and the realisation this could really be it, flooded through me. I was suddenly overcome with a desire to say goodbye. This, I'm now sure, prompted yet another attack which I felt building. Between 'deaths' I was in serious pain even though pumped full of morphine. The drugs I guess made me feel calm and accepting as I felt no panic, just regret I should have said more to my loved ones about how I felt about them. It's not death that frightens me today, it's the manner of going. I used to think I'd hate a slow death, but now I'm not so sure. A quick death out of the blue is so unfair. I wish I had the support of faith in an afterlife, or in re-incarnation like the buddhists. But I felt, and still feel, no calling to religion. It seems the light goes out and that's it.

The buddhist monk in the picture is a lady who sits daily outside Angkor Wat temple patiently in the heat. She appears very calm in her faith. I asked her if I could take her picture and she stared at me with those deep eyes full of acceptance. I like the colour version, but here in the black and white shot, those eyes really come to the fore. Photographed using the Leica M9 with the 35mm Summicron wide open at f2 giving a lovely feel to the background bokeh that is the hallmark of the Summicron lens.

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