A Simple Question

Lesson - A Simple Question: When the question found me, my body had already been broken by a sleep-deprived week-long extravaganza of chaos at Burning Man, and with all my filters of perception completely blown. Then there, staring at me out from the photos of one dusty face after another, was a single question:

[click images to enlarge]

Simple. Powerful. Frakking important! Why had no one asked me this before? Why had I never even heard of the WDYDWYD? project before Burning Man? And the question itself? Oh, yes, I knew my answer... I knew it immediately. I had tried to think of a better answer, but I returned over and over to the very first one that my heart screamed at the moment I heard the question:

"Because second chances aren't guaranteed."

Second chances are not guaranteed. Yes, I've been given second chances before--I'm alive because of a second chance--but they're not guaranteed. Ever since that second chance at life, I've been living it on a first chance basis... and that's why I do what I do.

What was standing in front of me was a wooden wall, where the WDYDWYD? question was written. Surrounding the question were hundreds of black and white photos. Every photo was the same... and every photo was completely different. Every photo had one person at the center, looking at the camera and holding a piece of paper where they'd written their answer. Each person was different, and as unique as their answers. The answers hit me over and over like the notes in a song.

There's no "right" answer.

There's only your answer.
...and the answers of others that strike you.

The project's evolved over the years. It now includes art beyond photography. Many color photos now fill the galleries with their answers, videos are online, and the project's moved far beyond the borders of the legendary "City in the Desert" where the question started.

I've included only a small handful of the answers I saw that night. You? You need to look into their eyes for yourself. You need to feel their expression... and you need to answer this question for yourself. Maybe your answer will change over time. Since that night in 2005, my answer has stayed the same.

My favorite photo remains one of those black and whites that I saw back in '05. It is in her eyes and fingers, her mix of calm and intensity, and I've kept it with me for quite a long time. With today being the last day of 2012, I can safely say I'll be holding on to this one even longer.

So.... why do you do what you do?

All photos by Tony Deifell. And the song of the day comes from an old favorite--Little People--who are back and making music again, with many free songs already up for download. Here's my current favorite--"4 and 8" (available for free here on Facebook):