Sometimes, the mind gets lost inside the mire of anxiety, like a hamster caught in an ever spinning wheel, so focused on the effort of running that one can forget to hop off the relentless vicious cycle. Feeling unwell from an unpleasant juxtaposition between Christmas feasting and irritable bowel syndrome, caught in the doldrums of self-deprecation, I was just about to declare 2017 a year of absolute non-achievement (yes, utterly ridiculous but that was my mindset at the time) when I decided to take a long, deep breath, sit down and make a list of the activities I had engaged in through the year. Truth be told, 2017 was actually a literal beehive of activity. I was surprised, duly chastised for my negativity, a tad shamefaced yet relieved – I needed that stern reality check!
The huge event that occupied most of 2017 was The BIG Anxiety Festival in Sydney, Australia. In this amazing groundbreaking Art+Science+People festival, I presented two solo works (Clement Space in the City and An Olfactory Map of Sydney), was advisor and associate artist for one of the most successful works in the festival (Snoösphere), participated in a human library event (Awkward Conversations), and was interviewed by various media on television and print (ABC Lateline, Snoösphere: the art installation tackling mental illness).
I authored two articles for a prestigious art magazine, Artlink, (Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow, and Reflections on the neurodiverse city), and was featured in various other publications (The Conversation, and Runway Magazine).
I also became a Board Member of the Disabled People’s Association, Singapore, attended a few board meetings, turned up for the Purple Parade (which was sensorially overwhelming but a worthy effort to make), encountered a couple of ‘Autism Bandwagon’ exploiters (which I turned away), met new friends and made new connections.
So much for my anxious brain’s excursion into the doldrums of despair over having done absolutely nothing of any worth all year! I am chuckling at the irony, laughing a little at my own panic, but it is a sobering lesson about mental calisthenics, the powerful propensity for anxiety to give way to illogical despair, and the importance of self-mitigation and self-care along the way. Reality checks are crucial when one is prone to extremes of productivity and getting caught in the loop of detail-focusing. I do not view myself as a ‘high-achiever’, nor am I really a ‘perfectionist’, I just like to be productively engaged in meaningful activities that I am passionate about, that is all.
And, of course, there was and is Lucy, my beautiful muse and canine angel, to occupy all the clement spaces in my world.
So, looking back now at 2017, it’s actually been a pretty wonderful year after all. Thank you, Every Bunny and the infinite cosmos for a richly textured 2017.
Bring on 2018!