The Mayfly project, 2011

The Project
At the end of every year since 2000, I’ve invited readers to look back on the last twelve months of their lives and reflect on what has been important, defining or constant during that particular year, and then sum their year up in just 24 words. Embracing the constraint of summing up the last year in a handful of words helps to focus what has really mattered.

The Background
In December of 2000, I met an old friend for dinner. We hadn’t seen each other in nine years, and hadn’t been in contact for eight. With only a few hours on a chilly evening in London to catch up before his plane left for Canada, we shared our stories in breathless bursts. So much had happened. We had to narrow it down to the essentials.

The best brief biography I’ve ever heard was for a mayfly:

Born. Eat. Shag. Die.

Because Ephemeroptera lives only for twenty-four hours, the summary of its life is refreshingly straightforward: To the point. The stuff that matters. Just the essentials.

I realised on the way home from the restaurant that there’s nothing quite like embracing the constraint of brevity (whether time or wordcount) when summing up the last year of your life to make you re-examine your priorities, or focus on what has affected you or was important to you over the last twelve months.

When I got home from seeing my friend, inspired by my evening and the biography of a mayfly bumping around in my head, I asked readers of this site to sum up the last year of their lives in just a handful of words. The Mayfly Project was born.

Due to popular demand, I’ve been running the Mayfly Project at the end of every year since then (here’s the 2006 edition, and here’s what happened in 2007 and 2008). It seems that people have got a lot to say or rather, that a lot of people have got not a lot to say: twenty-four words, to be precise, reflecting the mayfly’s short lifespan.

Another year has passed, and it’s back again.

The Instructions
Scroll down to sum up your 2011 in twenty-four words. But before you do, check:

  1. Is it twenty four words?
  2. Does it sum up the last year of your life?

If the answer to either of those is no, you’re going to look silly.

17 thoughts on “The Mayfly project, 2011

  1. Seven times across the atlantic, one emergency landing and a marvellous, miraculous midsummer surprise. Great expectations/preparations growing throughout winter. Looking forward to spring.

  2. Exciting travels to places previously unexplored, lots of learning very much enjoyed, sparks of a career ignited, unexpected opportunities to be explored. Take off?

  3. Cried over Lucy while The Flashy Man ran amok. Bought a tiny house, Obsessed over furniture. Changed jobs, Redirected energy into enjoying my life.

    (PS Lucy and The Flashy Man are cats!)

  4. Globetrotted: Iraq (weird) Jordan, Peru, Bolivia, Easter Island (all brilliant). Got hitched! Best day ever. Honeymoon: Galapagos! Now home, enjoying married life.

  5. Finished business. Unfinished business. Finished business that remains unfinished, and unfinished business that feels finished. Closed doors. Open ends.

  6. Sofa surfed for 5 months thanks to friends, moved in with Ibinabo, went to some festivals, ended a relationship, got over my “illustrators block”

  7. One percent served, recession curved
    Capitol shaken, Bin Laden taken
    Ghadafi’s reign ended, DADT rescinded
    Wildfires burned, Iraq troops returned
    Kardashian’s fling, Arab spring

  8. Met love. Lost love. Was sad, but met Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight, and survived. Found direction, inspiration and hope; creativity returned, as did love.

  9. Leaped into the unknown and initiated transformation without fear; accepted the pleasure of stability and routine, challenged dreams and projected visions- learning, mainly learning.

  10. Relationship/health issues persist in 2011. Gained a niece. Lost a dear friend to cancer. Facing 40 and positive changes in 2012. Can’t wait.

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  12. Heartbreakingly hard, no was almost more then we could bare. Laid-off day before New Years, Juanita and Etta Bring Joy. Kate fills my Heart

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