The Longest Night

Today is the winter solstice. I am half way through this project! I have taken my camera out, slotted it in to my homemade platform and filmed myself every morning now for 182 days. Only six months to go . . .

When I started filming back in June it was getting light at 3am and it all felt quite different. I was filming at 9.30 am instead of 8.30, because of daylight saving.  It is cold, wet and dark and I often have to boil a kettle to melt the ice from the platform. I need a torch to set up and have been hearing owls while filming.  It is hard to imagine myself stepping back on to the platform in six months with the sun in my eyes.

Since I began I have been bitten by midges, rained, snowed and hailed upon. I have tied the tripod down against hurricane force winds, dug a trench to divert a stream and built a path of pebbles to stop it sinking into a bog. I have done a lot of thinking and learnt a few things some practical some profound.

The whole thing has been an exercise in acceptance, however when I looked up antonyms for the word, I got a long list of lot of words people have used to describe me; stubborn, impatient, willful, headstrong, rebellious . . . I could go on. Maybe the first thing I need to accept is that I am often looking for a fight. And if I were not most of these things I probably wouldn’t be doing this project in the first place.

I’ve learnt that the tides don’t just go in and out as you imagine they do. There is a whole science dedicated to understanding how the gravitational pull of the sun and moon on the earth and the earths own rotation effects bodies of water and it is quite complicated. Even more interestingly the solid parts of the earth are affected by tides too. Which kind of changes how you understand the word ‘solid’. Everything it seems is in a state of movement, or flux beyond rigid control.

I have learnt that large gradual changes are much harder to detect when things fluctuate quite wildly on a daily basis. This is true of the light, of seasons and of self.

This and the movements of the tides are distinctly different from how I first imagined the film would look.

I have also thought a lot about different kinds of film making, about observing others in attempt to shed light on ones self and of attempting to share personal experience in order to see if other people feel the same too. I have thought about the way our brain records experiences as memories and the desire to capture and record in different kinds of ways. Is it a fear of losing the moments or ones self?

I’m not going to lie and say the last six months hasn’t been hard, I have struggled with not being able leave, with not being able to have a proper lie in, with the routine it has imposed on my life and opportunities I have not been able to take, but it has brought many things including an appreciation of the different ways one can gain perspective without getting on a plane or a train.

On that note I was recently imagining myself as an old lady looking back on this year and the film. I am certain I will be glad I had this experience and I will almost certainly laugh at myself too (affectionately of course).  When I am eighty this year won’t feel very long at all.


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