To have heat stroke

Esquire (Singapore) - - WHAT IT FEELS LIKE... - By Ab­dul Aziz Der­mawan, 25, ul­tra-run­ner

I ex­pe­ri­enced heat stroke quite of­ten dur­ing my runs. In 2016, I had my first in Sum­bawa, In­done­sia when I ran for 320km. And the tem­per­a­ture was about 40 to 43 de­gree Cel­sius. I had an­other dur­ing TITI Ul­tra in 2017. The cli­mate was hot and hu­mid and I think I was push­ing my­self too hard by run­ning too fast dur­ing the first 50km with min­i­mum hy­dra­tion. After­wards, my feet started to feel heavy; I felt cold and my chest hurt. I felt week and I was stricken with nau­sea and headaches. I man­aged to drag my­self un­til the 75km mark and then I fi­nally gave up and quit. That same ex­pe­ri­ence oc­curred at other races, one in Rin­jani, In­done­sia and dur­ing the Pe­nang Eco 50k. The worst feel­ing I have ex­pe­ri­enced was when my eyes went blank and my mus­cles cramped up, but I was still awake. I had to quit to get help from the med­i­cal crew.

I lived in Ban­dung pre­vi­ously, where the air is a bit cooler, so I think that was a big fac­tor when I run in places that are hotter and more hu­mid. Now I live near Jakarta, with a very dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment; this helps me a lot es­pe­cially when I pre­pare for run­ning in hot and hu­mid places. Now I hy­drate more dur­ing the race and also dur­ing my train­ing to avoid suf­fer­ing from heat stroke again.

I GOT T HI S I NSPI R AT I ON from Malala Yousafzai. She said: “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” So, I be­lieve that one love, one photo, one mes­sage can change the world. I con­cep­tu­alised ‘Out in Ja­pan’ where I shot 1,000 LGBTQ peo­ple in Ja­pan. I got spon­sor­ships from Gap to pro­vide the wardrobe for my sub­jects. I spent about a year to shoot all 1,000 peo­ple. I’ve used crowd­fund­ing and vol­un­teers to be engaged in this spirit of sup­port­ing LGBTQ peo­ple, and be­liev­ing that one day, same-sex mar­riage will be pos­si­ble in Ja­pan very soon. This is what I’m also do­ing with ‘Out in Sin­ga­pore’ as well.

I T’S 2 0 1 8. It’s time for peo­ple to un­der­stand that we should have ba­sic hu­man rights. LGBTQ peo­ple con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety. They work hard, pay taxes, but the coun­try isn’t ac­cept­ing of who they are and I feel ashamed. It’s not just about LGBTQ; I want it to be about fair­ness for other peo­ple too.

I WANT TO F E E L P ROUD of my coun­try so ‘Out in Sin­ga­pore’ is a way to do that. At least, within my project I want to tell the whole world that Sin­ga­pore is im­prov­ing.

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY I S MY GREAT­EST LOVE . Pho­tog­ra­phy is my love/wife/hus­band/beloved and I am us­ing this medium to share the love that I have with the world.

I’M NOT SUR­PRISED that Tai­wan is pro­gres­sive with same-sex union. In Asia, Tai­wan is the coun­try with the most un­der­stand­ing of arts, movies, pho­tog­ra­phy… even more than Ja­pan. When it comes to their films or mu­sic, they don’t cen­sor in­dis­crim­i­nately.

I CAN­NOT BLAME HOMOPHOBES. The­yarethat­way­be­cause of how they were brought up. Hope­fully, one day they will have an op­por­tu­nity to re­alise that what they were afraid of was noth­ing. Like bungee jump­ing. If you’re afraid of that, just do it. And after that, you re­alise that it’s no big deal. Th­ese sorts of things take time.

I ’ M NOT V E RY E D U CATED so I’m not very good at read­ing and study­ing. Any­thing I dis­cover is through my eyes and de­rived from my ex­pe­ri­ence.

THE HU­MAN BODY is a mir­a­cle and I’m shoot­ing a mir­a­cle ev­ery day. Think about it: your mom’s egg and your fa­ther’s sperm made you. That’s a one in a mil­lion chance that you ex­ist. This is a mir­a­cle.

I F YOU R E A L LY have the heart or de­ter­mi­na­tion, you’ll re­alise that it makes a lot of things pos­si­ble. I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced that, so I try to share that with young peo­ple who are prob­a­bly look­ing for their own path in life. No­body can take away your de­ter­mi­na­tion and strong pas­sion. Even if it doesn’t go well at first, you just pick your­self up and go for it again.

THE ONLY VA­CA­TION I took in my life was when I was 18. I back­packed to In­dia and Nepal for a year and a half. Now as a pho­tog­ra­pher, I’m go­ing to dif­fer­ent coun­tries; shoot­ing, meet­ing peo­ple, look­ing for places to hold my ex­hi­bi­tions. But I don’t call it a va­ca­tion… it’s more like a jour­ney.

A VA­CA­TION should feel like its pur­pose­less. You just re­lax. You look at the sea, look at the sky. When I was in In­dia I was close to that: no pur­pose. I took some pho­tos, got in­spired. Now, I’ve be­come a per­son who con­stantly sees how I can con­nect to the world.

ART CAN CHANGE THE WORLD. Art changed me; it saved me. If I hadn’t watched some amaz­ing films and lis­tened to amaz­ing mu­sic or looked at great pho­tog­ra­phers’ work, I wouldn’t be here. Now I want to keep on spread­ing this spirit. I just want to use this lit­tle time that I have to share as much as pos­si­ble.

I ’ M ST I L L C HASI NG MY D R E A MS. Big dreams. I wanna be the Asian ver­sion of Mother Teresa—sav­ing the world through my pho­tog­ra­phy.

PHO­TOG­RA­PHERS whom I love and ad­mire; they’ve been around for 60-odd years. I can’t com­pare my­self to them yet. My ca­reer of 20 years is only the be­gin­ning, so I’m quite lucky that at this stage, I’m do­ing quite a lot of stuff.

D E AT H I S A F I NAL D E S T I NATI ON of ev­ery liv­ing thing. So, in­stead of deal­ing with what’s sad, I spend more time, heart and ef­fort to give those who are dy­ing more love near the end of their lives. Mak­ing them feel loved is the only thing I can do. When the day comes, of course, I will be sad but I will be grate­ful and be thank­ful for the love they have given me as well. It’s not sad­ness, it’s a beau­ti­ful good­bye. That’s how I deal with death.

I WANT to look for­ward to a beau­ti­ful death. Ideally, I would like to die at my own ex­hi­bi­tion and after my speech; just as when peo­ple start to ap­plaud. I want to die on stage.

OR maybe I’ll die while I’m still shoot­ing.

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