At the beginning of the end of 2017, I created a short ‘gif’-like animation to wish my friends and family a great beginning to the new year.
Then my mum came to visit and we had lots of long conversations about the past generally, and this year specifically. I was trying to distill my thinking about end of year reflections into 3-5 questions.
Of course, because this is the way I seem to work, I collated a sum total of 126 questions.
With the intention to leisurely edit them to a usable size…
My patient and long-suffering mum kindly helped me to whittle all of that down to, maybe, 23. That process alone was simultaneously revealing and exhausting. We eventually decided to cheat and allow chance to make the remaining decisions.
Using a coconut bowl from the Solomon Islands, I put the remaining 20+ questions into it, for an open-ended process that would allow people to choose randomly, but also to dismiss and choose again if the question didn’t work for them.
The result of all of this preparation was the collection of images you can see in the following video, with me building the individual images and asking lots of useless details, such as, “Was there a tree next to the building?” and “Did the paths run straight, or were they more organic?” And my mum patiently answering as well as clicking on the camera dooverlackie to capture them:
Then on New Year’s Eve itself, I once more attached the bedsheet to my front window blinds outside our study (as we did on the rained-out Halloween) and played with sand.
My mother and partner both generously participated as we watched the clock tick down to midnight. Well… kinda… To be honest, in the end, we forgot about time. Which was quite sweet, actually…
And, wonderfully, several of our our neighbours took time out from their own celebrations to watch and comment. One brave soul cheerfully, joined our process, answered questions from the ‘Tree of Life’ bowl with good humour and joined the conversation between words and images. These were the results, with their questions (if any) attached:
A response to: “What nourished you in 2017?”
A response to: “What was the best compliment you received in 2017?” – the answer was: “You think like a much older person.”
A response to: “What would you like to do next year, that you did this year?”
And, a response to: “What would you do in 2018, if you knew you could not possibly fail?”
Of course it all couldn’t happen in the Australian outdoors without some unexpected fly-by-nights. Who were duly celebrated:
And so, reflecting, now, on the reflection…
I think the process has distilled my questions and I can’t wait to use them, in their new and condensed iteration:
“What grains of sand are you happy to leave behind?”
“What grains of sand are itching at you right now?”
“What sand dunes and oceans would you be happy to explore next?”
“What would you like this mirror made of glass, sand and light to reflect?”