As we creep closer towards the end of a year that many of us would like to see the back of, the festivities of Christmas give away to the contemplation of January. Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings, is depicted in art with two faces, one looking behind and one looking forward; could there be anything more appropriate for a time when we reflect on the year that was and look ahead at the year to come?
This is certainly something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. While in the middle of doing things, it’s so easy to lose sight of what has actually been done. I took a few minutes the other day to list things I’ve managed to accomplish this year. There was growing Indian River by Air to almost 15,000 Facebook followers, designing a new set of notecards, and producing the fourth calendar. Just the past week alone I managed to design a dozen posters and build a website for the forthcoming Love Chippenham campaign as part of my anti-litter work on Off the Ground / Rubbish Walks, in addition to the usual blogging and Community Clean Ups throughout the year. There was launching a crafty business of greeting cards, tags, and more. And I started this blog.
Which quite nicely brings me back to my earlier musings on tradition and the MBTI. My reason for starting the blog in the first place was to give my different interests the space to roam, and that is one issue I have with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: if you’re not careful, it can box you in. While I recognise myself in the ISTJ description, realistically my personality is also a bit INTJ. And INFJ. And probably bits of the others as well. I have grown to be cautious of allowing myself to be pigeonholed, of allowing myself to believe the limitations of an internal chorus of “I am like this and not that”.
Yet this is not to say that assessments like the MBTI are pointless. I think they are valuable for starting down the path of understanding oneself better. For example, I am introvert: I get my energy from alone time, not being around people. It explains why I find working in an open-plan office exhausting, but knowing this allows me to find ways of dealing with the energy drain.
Much of it boils down to the advice that Polonius gives to his son in Hamlet: “To thine own self be true”. In turn, Shakespeare most likely swiped this from the pithier Oracle of Delphi in Greece, the ancient entrance of which bore the words “Know thyself”. [As an aside, this may have been taken from
Egyptian temples, once again proving that that there are no original thoughts under the sun.]
So I think one of the reasons that the annual photo competition appeals to me, despite not being one for traditions, is that it taps into my need for a creative outlet. Yet until this past year I never realised how much I needed the chance to flex my creative muscles; it’s certainly not mentioned in the ISTJ description! So in looking ahead to the New Year, I hope to have the opportunity to do more flexing on a regular basis.
As for the photo competition itself, each family member votes on their top three pictures for each person so that everyone ends up with a ranking of their photos. It’s fascinating to see what rises to the top, and I always wonder what criteria the others use when selecting their three favourites; is it aesthetics? Subject matter? Instinct? Regardless, here are the photos entered in this year’s photo competition, from least to most points.
Reflections of Summer: Views along Chippenham’s riverfront.
Spotted (1): Who’s watching who?
Lost in Spring: An early spring sunrise during a walk in West Woods, Wiltshire.
Amongst the Stones: A morning visit to Avebury.
Spotted (2): Eye-to-eye with a zebra at Longleat.
Perfect pigeon: What else can you call a bird who poses so well?
Sit a moment: A favourite scene from our Welsh adventure.
Autumnal Amber: Autumn at Westonbirt Arboretum is a great spectacle.
Calm Clear Cold: This photo has come to represent winter.
Hazy Shade of Winter: I was a bit obsessed with winter sunsets this year (and Simon and Garfunkel).
Shear Bliss: It’s not just the photos that feature in the Christmas photo contest; it’s always fun to come up with titles as well.
Stoplights: Named for the range from green to red in one photo.
Pretty in Pink: As I said, a little obsessed.
Woodpigeon Dreams: I don’t know why, but this photo seems to radiate contentment.
Over the Hills and Far Away: Based on votes, this was the most popular photo I’ve taken this year.