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My Year of The Daily Hart Challenge

An abstract image of multi-coloured splotches that acts as a header for the Daily Hart.

Four years ago I had an idea. I wanted to experience a work of art every day and write about it. I thought about this idea for over three years, turning it over in my head, wondering how it would work and what the parameters would be. But every time I thought about actually starting the project, I got cold feet. An entire year of daily posts was no small commitment, and I didn’t want to start something that I couldn’t finish. But I never stopped thinking about it. As a result, I started noticing more of the art that I happened to come across in my daily life. The musicians in the Metro. The street art on the buildings in my neighbourhood. The paintings in the windows of galleries I would pass by. And it made me happy, because there is nothing I love more than experiencing art.

Fast forward to October 2020. We were entering the second wave of the COVID pandemic, and exactly a year ago today, the first curfew in France came into effect. By the end of the month, we were back in lockdown. This lockdown would ultimately last for seven months, with restaurants, cultural sites, and non-essential shops all closing their doors. It was also in October of 2020 that both my grandmother and stepmother passed away within weeks of each other, but with travel restrictions and quarantine rules, it was nearly impossible to go back to Canada to be with my family. All of this is to say that this time last year, I was in desperate need of some joy in my life.

Therefore, throwing caution to the wind, I decided to start the Daily Hart. I announced the project on October 11th, 2020, and on October 12th, I posted my first daily helping of art. I then woke up the next morning wondering what on earth I had just done. If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t think I would make it to the end of the week, let alone a whole year of daily posts. But as it turns out, those fears were unfounded, because last Monday, on October 11th, 2021, I published my 365th daily helping. I had made it a whole year. And what a year it was.

Over the past 12 months, I have experienced more than I ever thought possible when I first cooked up this idea. I have discovered new music that I still listen to months after I first wrote about it. I have read books and short stories that I’m still thinking about and have not yet emotionally recovered from. I have watched movies from around the globe that made me think and re-evaluate how I see the world. I have re-discovered my love for dance and the performing arts. And I have a whole new appreciation for hula hooping.

But more importantly than all that, this challenge has pushed me out of my comfort zone and beyond the familiar genres, mediums, and cultures that I have experienced all my life. Because of the Daily Hart, I listened to my first pod play. Because of this challenge, I discovered cultural dances from around the world and learned the meaning and history behind them. I watched my first anime and C-drama, and I have become hopelessly addicted to K-dramas. I discovered Mongolian metal bands and Inuit-style throat singing. Japanese drumming and shamisen guitars. I started reading more poetry. I started listening to spoken word. And I got over my fear of not being cultured enough to appreciate visual art, and just accepted that it was okay to like something solely because of how it makes you feel when you look at it.

And then there’s everything beyond the art that I learned as a result of this challenge. I ultimately ended up featuring art from over 60 different countries, including some I didn’t even know existed until I randomly chose them from a map. Hello Turkmenistan! I went down countless rabbit holes of Wikipedia pages learning about these countries and their culture and history. My journey with BL shows caused me to do a dive deep into the history of sexuality and gender in Asia. And because of my newfound obsession with K-dramas, I am now learning Korean because I’m tired of depending on the subtitles. That’s right. Because of the Daily Hart, I’m learning an entirely new language. And I love it.

When I started the Daily Hart a year ago, it never occurred to me the extent to which this project would change my life. How much it would enrich my understanding of the world. How it would open my eyes to new perspectives and viewpoints. But it has, in more ways than I thought possible. Nearly every day I find myself using something that I have learned as a result of the Daily Hart. I mean, I’ve read economic policies and international trade agreements because of this challenge for crying out loud. I certainly didn’t expect that plot twist when I set out on this journey last October.

The truth is, I didn’t know what to expect at all when I finally decided to pull the trigger on this idea. All I knew was that life is too short to wait to do things that make you happy and bring you joy. I didn’t know where the Daily Hart would take me, but I knew it would be one hell of a ride. And I was right. It has been an extraordinary ride, and it has brought me so much happiness and joy during a year that continues to be difficult and challenging.

To everyone who has been following me on this journey, thank you so much for coming on this ride with me. As I write this, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for everything I have gained as a result of this challenge, and I know that I would have never gotten this far if it hadn’t been for all of your support. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, this really has been a life-changing experience, and I thank you all for being a part of it.

That being said, this is not the end. This year’s challenge may be over, but the Daily Hart will absolutely continue. I’m having too much fun for it not to. So please stay tuned. I’ll be back next weekend with an update on what the Daily Hart will look like going forward. Until then, I hope you continue to enjoy all the art that finds its way into your life. I know I will.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas.