mexico

Siesta Eternal by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

mom_hammock

My mother naps, wrapped in a hammock in Mexico. She is alive and well, but here, she seems to sleep eternally.

The other day I watched the film Amour, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and best foreign film at the Oscars this year. It shed light on the final stages of life, which I think few people dwell on until they find themselves there, and then they haven’t got a choice. That’s the scariest thing – getting to a place where you no longer have a say… where you can’t assert your identity. What does it feel like to lose control over your own existence?

I listened to a really interesting podcast this week by Radiolab called “The Bitter End” which wrestled with this question. They found that there’s a surprising gap between what doctors will do for us when death is near, and what doctors want done for themselves. While most of us would say: save my life at any cost, doctors know the invasiveness of many life-prolonging interventions. The majority opt for an earlier death soothed by painkillers, rather than a few extra months with a breathing tube. A study done in 1996 found that TV medical dramas depict CPR as having a survival rate of 75%, but I was stunned to learn that in reality, it's only 8%! And of that, only 3% return to a normal quality of life. No wonder our perception is skewed.

In the end, all living things share the same inescapable fate. I guess doctors think about that more than most. To me, the thought is simultaneously comforting and terrifying – the idea that we’re all in it together, and yet

completely

alone.

… but what can you do?

Live Free and/or Die - White Sea Turtles by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin

tortugas.overlay Yesterday I went to a sea turtle sanctuary called La Tortugranja on Isla Mujeres (the Island of Women) in Mexico.

It's a tiny, beautiful island, despite daily boatloads of tourists being belched onto the surrounding beaches from Cancún. Unassuming and out of the way, La Tortugranja is not only a sanctuary for turtles, but also for lone photographers in a hermit-ish mood.

They keep many different species here (all endangered) but most stunning are the white sea turtles. According to their caretakers, they cannot absorb sunlight properly and so suffer a shorter lifespan. Because of this and for educational purposes, they will never be set free, though I can't help but think that a short life in the ocean is better than an eternity in a tank.