The biggest questions always have the simplest answers.
Whether rhetorical or horrifyingly immediate, when the question is “Before I die, what do I need to do to feel like I really lived?” the answers are revealing, poetic, telling.
Started in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina by Candy Chang, the art project that has gone global is deceptively simple: a wall, some blackboard paint and chalk, and one unfinished sentence, repeated dozens of times:
“Before I die I want to: _________________.”
All over the world, on more 250 walls in more than 40 countries, passers-by don’t wait long to start filling in those blanks.
In St. Paul, some of the answers are lighthearted: “Before I die I want to: meet Nicky (sic) Minaj.”
Political: “Before I die I want to: Live free!”
Near-universal: “be happy,” and “raise my children” and “make a difference.” And some are thought-provoking: “Before I die I want to: be someone’s cavalry.”
What stands out, second only to family and friends, is how many of those wishes for a good life are about seeing the world, having adventures and moving through life — not standing still.
According to a blog that documents responses on the walls, posts about travel are outpaced only by wishes for love.
Among the goals that define a life well-lived for some Minnesotans:
“Live in another country.”
“Go to the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
“Travel to all the states.”
“Travel back to Germany.”
“Go to Poland.”
“Explore this world!”
Knowing that so many people — people we pass on the street every day — will put dreams like this off until it’s too late is heartbreaking. Because goals such as saving a life or finding yourself or riding a lion (true post) are so much harder to fulfill.
If your “Before I die” can be answered with a passport, a plane ticket or a good GPS, what are you waiting for?
To see more about St. Paul’s “Before I Die” wall, which will be on display for six weeks, and the global project: http://<DP>beforeidie.cc/site/<DP>saint-paul