Sunday, July 7, 2013

"Before I Die.." .An Interactive Wish List

I stumbled onto this site while visiting other NOLA blogs and this simply blew me away.  So simple and so powerful at the same time.

This was turned into...
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you. After I lost someone I loved very much, I thought about death a lot. This helped clarify my life, the people I want to be with, and the things I want to do, but I struggled to maintain perspective. I wondered if other people felt the same way. So with help from old and new friends, I painted the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with a grid of the sentence “Before I die I want to _______.” Anyone walking by could pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives, and share their personal aspirations in public space.It was an experiment and I didn’t know what to expect. By the next day, the wall was bursting with handwritten responses and it kept growing: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, hold her one more time, eat a salad with an alien, see my daughter graduate, abandon all insecurities, plant a tree, straddle the International Date Line, be completely myself…  People’s responses made me laugh out loud and they made me tear up. They consoled me during my toughest times. I understood my neighbors in new and enlightening ways, and the wall reminded me that I’m not alone as I try to make sense of my life.
This.  Amazing, just amazing.
After receiving many requests, my friends and I created a toolkit and the project site to help people make a wall with their community. You can also download all files for free to remix or create your own stencils. Thanks to passionate people, over 100 Before I Die walls have now been created in over 10 languages and in over 30 countries, including Kazakhstan, Portugal, Japan, Denmark, Australia, Argentina, and South Africa. They have been a constant source of inspiration and therapy for me. Each wall is unique and reflects the people of that community. Each wall is a tribute to living an examined life.
View more images and rest of this wonderful story, HERE.

No doubt, I'll be hunting down a few of these buildings during my September visit.
And so it goes.


  1. Excellent Read this morning! Have you ever thought about a column in the local paper!

  2. Thanks for this - I'm pissed that I didn't go see it when I had the chance but I'm glad it's saved for everyone to see via the website.

  3. @Roger: I have never thought of myself as a "writer" as I take liberties with language and punctuation, and probably annoy people I write just the way a talk.

    @Mermaid: So, I guess it's history now, huh? Well, as you say, it's on the Web forever now. BTW, I am coming home in September for a short visit with friends and the sister. I'm staying in a hotel in the quarter (don't know which, yet) and maybe we could meet for a drink, if you're free.

    Thanks for the visit guys.


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