May I introduce to you, Matt Dimmock........
Matt: My name is Matt and I grew up on the south coast of NSW. Some of my earliest memories are of splashing around at the beach and exploring micro worlds in the sand. I feel a constant pull back to that place and will end up there one day when the time is right. I currently live in the Blue Mountains of NSW, an equally beautiful place, with my wife, son, and baby daughter. I studied Asian Studies at ANU in Canberra and ended up living in Thailand on and off for a number of years. I think it was different ways of knowing and interpreting the same world which drew me onto that path. And the food.
Lauren: Why did you decide to join capturing gratitude?
Matt: Photography has been a hobby for many years so new ways of directing that passion is always welcome. As a family we were going through some pretty stressful times so I figured taking the opportunity to consciously focus on positive things, however small, will help buffer the stress a little. I was also keen to see what others were grateful for and their photographs.
Lauren: Tell me about one of the gratitude photographs you took during November for Capturing Gratitude.
Matt: I found myself mostly taking photographs of the natural world, finding in this comfort and peace. Something about the enormity and beauty of it all helps put things in perspective. The jacarandas were flowering when our baby daughter was born, so these hold a special significance now. The sun setting through the trees of our backyard is always a good time to sit and reflect on the day.
Lauren: How was this month for you? Did photographing the things you were grateful for change your life in any small or not so small ways?
Matt: All too often I think we take the good things in our lives for granted and focus too much on the negatives that can become overwhelming. So for me, photographing what I was grateful for was a conscious act that entrenched it more in my memory, rather than just having a fleeting thought come and go. So the term “capturing” works on two levels – securing gratitude on camera and in my mind. Now when I am feeling stressed at work, for example, I will think of one of the gratitude photographs I took and tune out for a moment. The photographs became a helpful device through which I could distill exactly what it is I am grateful for, rather than just vague notions.
Lauren: What role will gratitude play in your life from here on in?
Matt: Recognising and capturing gratitude will continue to give me perspective and balance in my life. While it won't be daily, I endeavour to continue capturing my gratitude when it floods my mind. Over time I have a feeling I'll be fairly well amazed at all the things in my life I am grateful for. And that in itself is a wonderful thing.
Matt: Well, to choose just one thing... I am passionate about Citizen Advocacy, which is a form of advocacy aimed at improving the lives of people with intellectual disability through matching them with a suitable member of the community who chooses to stand up for that person's rights and interests as if they were their own. It is a powerful and unique form of advocacy because it is based on relationship with one another, and these relationships can sometimes last a lifetime – something invaluable for people for whom often the only people in their life are people paid to be there (support workers and other professionals). It also brings people with intellectual disability living on the margins into the ordinary circles of community life, thereby building inclusion and strengthening communities.
Thanks so much Matt for sharing your gratitude journey, your photography and your passion. I so loved hearing about the way the project is still helping you to remember all that you're grateful for, 6 weeks down the track.