We used to call it a Bucket List. But bucket lists have taken on a life of their own. A movement has started all over the world. Before I Die is a global art project that encourages people to think about how short life is and reflect on their lives. It was created by Candy Chang on an abandoned house after she lost a love one. Somehow, it has become viral and there are over 2,000 walls around the world. The walls are created by local residents who want to encourage their community to re-imagine relationships with each other, and life itself. Each wall represents living an “examined life” and what it means to be human.
This global project now spans 76 countries and 38 languages, and has received a lot of press including recognition from leading publications. A Life and Times review said, “Death can inspire life. Especially in New Orleans, on the corner of Marigny and Burgundy, where the Before I Die project has used the specter of urban decay and death to create art and inspire. Using a boarded up house as a canvas, artist Candy Chang transformed a haunting reminder of blight and divestment into a powerful affirmation of human life and imagination.” Oprah Magazine published, “Through a series of large-scale projects that combine installation art with social activism, Chang has encouraged people to engage with public spaces to let their voices be heard.”
When you first hear of the project, you might assume that the entries are adventures that people hope they can take before they get too old. But really they reveal the heart and soul of humanity and our desire to love and be loved more than filling our last days with excitement. If you could write anything on a Before I Die wall, what would you say?
A handful of entries:
I want to tell my mother I love her.
I want to go home on time.
I want to not be homeless
I want to have a student come back and tell me it mattered.
I want to live off the grid.
I want to listen more.