In 2011 artist Candy Chang invited her neighbors to fill in the blank with chalk on the walls of an abandoned home in New Orleans. Their responses were inspiring, surprising, funny, and touching…
"Before I die, I want to be tried for piracy."
"Before I die, I want to straddle the International Date Line."
"Before I die, I want to sing for millions."
"Before I die, I want to plant a tree."
"Before I die, I want to live off the grid."
"Before I die, I want to hold her one more time."
"Before I die, I want to be someone's cavalry."
"Before I die, I want to be completely myself."
In this public space people revealed their dreams to strangers. They shared their story with their community. It became an empowering tool, opening up an avenue to talk about dreams and death. People from around the world reached out to Chang and asked to create the same kind of space in their community.
What is it about this project that resonated so much with people?
Are we craving to talk about death? Longing for connection with our neighbors? Yearning to articulate our fears? Aching to share what is deep in our hearts?
In her TED talk about the project Chang hits it on the nail:
Two of the most valuable things we have are time and our relationships with other people. In our age of increasing distractions it’s more important than ever to find ways to maintain perspective and remember that life is brief and tender. Death is something that we’re often discouraged to talk about, or even think about, but I’ve realized that preparing for death is one of the most empowering things you can do. Thinking about death clarifies your life. Our shared spaces can better reflect what matters to us as individuals and as a community. With more ways to share our hopes, fears, and stories the people around us can not only help us make better places, they can help us lead better lives.
– Candy Chang
This is what personal history is about – sharing our hopes, fears, and stories.
So, before you die…what do you want? Share with us in the comment section.