An activity inspired by an artist.
After Candy lost someone she loved, she went through a long period of grief and depression. With time she felt gratitude for the time they had together and eventually she found clarity in her life by contemplating death so much. But she struggled to maintain this perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you. She wanted a daily reminder and she wanted to know what was important to the people around her. So after receiving permission, she painted the side of an abandoned house in her 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 all an experiment and she didn’t know what to expect. By the next day, the wall was completely filled out and it kept growing: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, plant a tree, hold her one more time, straddle the International Date Line, see my daughter graduate, eat more everything, abandon all insecurities, be completely myself… People’s responses made her laugh out loud and tear up. They consoled her during her toughest times. She understood her neighbors in new and enlightening ways, and the wall reminded her that she’s not alone as she tries to make sense of her life.
After posting a few photos, she received hundreds of messages from people who wanted to make a wall with their community. She created this website with resources and now thanks to passionate people around the world, over 425 Before I Die walls have been created in 30 languages and over 65 countries, including Kazakhstan, Portugal, Japan, Denmark, Iraq, Argentina, and South Africa. The new Before I Die book is a celebration of these walls and the stories behind them.
Regularly contemplating death, as Stoics and other philosophers encourage, is a powerful tool to restore perspective and remind us of the things that make our lives meaningful. Our public spaces are our shared spaces and at their greatest, they can help us make sense of the beauty and tragedy of life with the people around us.
The following are answers from my health class when talking about communication, stress, goals, etc. Their answers were anonymous. There are always common themes of achieving something great or helping in ways that are bigger than themselves. Some are funny, thoughtful, or bring a tear to your eye. Your kids have dreams, hopefully someday they'll take the risk to achieve them!
"Before I die I want to _______________________"
· Become a professional photographer for National Geographic.
· Be in the NHL.
· Cliff dive.
· Graduate college.
· Change somebody’s life by helping them see the Christian life.
· Live life helping others.
· Become a Navy SEAL.
· Get married.
· Have kids.
· Meet “One Direction”.
· Inspire someone to do something worthwhile.
· Make the world a better place to live in.
· Stop being afraid.
· Live to live, not be afraid to die.
· Go skiing.
· Make a difference in the world, someone’s life, or just someone’s day.
· Meet Faith Hill.
· Save something.
· Save the life of an animal.
· Become a successful meteorologist.
· Adopt a puppy from a kill shelter to save them.
· Become a scientist like Albert Einstein.
· Live a happy life.
· Spend more time with my family.
· Become a known singer and make others happy.
· Develop a computer program.
· Own a paintball field.
· Fix my relationship with my dad.
· Travel the world with the love of my life.
· Meet Oprah.
· Not end up homeless like my uncle.
· Get a car.
· Spend a day with my favorite hockey player.
· I want my diseases to be cured.
· I want my dad, my stepmom, & my 3 dogs to have a good home.
· Go overseas.
· Travel the world with my best friend.
· Try to get in the Olympics.
· Meet a famous person.
· Meet other people in my family
· I want my stepmom to stop smoking.
· Get at least one chance to be famous.
· Help poor people out.
· Become a YouTuber.
· Be famous.
· Lose weight.
· Solve a crime that hasn’t been solved.
· Get a fat pet bunny.
· See my grandfather that I’ve never met before.
· Learn Japanese.
· Go skydiving with my dad.
· Become a roller coaster engineer.
· Make my parents to be proud of me.
· Have my crush to like me back.
· Become an interior designer or a famous writer.
· Find a way to save cats from having to spend their life in a shelter or getting killed because no one wants them.
· Have a family.
· Become a better person and give back to the community.
· Have a successful life with accomplishments that I’m extremely proud of.
· Be baptized and know the truth.
· Open a bakery.
· Live a happy life and have worked hard with a job.
· Inspire my little brother so he looks up to me.
· Visit my grandparents for the first time.
· Go hang gliding/skydiving.
· See if there is other life in the universe.
· Go to Tokyo and go to an anime store.
· See the cherry blossom trees in bloom in Tokyo.
· Bungee jump off a bridge.
· See earth from space.
· Cure mental illness.
· Become a math teacher.
· Go to every state and continent.
· Meet the cast of one of my favorite TV shows.
· Go to Paris.
· Make it on Broadway.
· Be abnormal to everyone else.
· Win a Nobel peace prize.
· Find out the exact meaning of time.
· Become a zoologist or marine biologist.
· Help my sister get better, get off drugs, help her mental illness, and not be in pain anymore.
· Go to Japan and try the candy.
· Climb one of the highest mountains on earth.
· Make it to Juilliard for dance.
· Inspire younger kids to keep playing sports.
· Get first place at a national dance competition.
· End animal cruelty.
· Be a better brother.
· Go into space.
· Serve as a missionary in my church.
· Raise a happy and healthy family and make sure they’re safe.
· Experience adult hood.
· Have my family see me for one last time.
· Make may mark on the world.
· Help the world solve a problem.
· Get a food job and have a loving family.
· Complete everything on my bucket list.
· Protect someone.
· Go to space, aka get off this world.
· Have no regrets.
· Inspire other people while in a band.
· Get baptized.
· Tell my teachers how they helped me.
· Swim with a tiger shark.
· Make peace with my past.
· Swim in the ocean.
· Create something we can all use.
· Own my own company.
· Race in a big race.
· Go to the Grand Canyon.
· Drive a Lamborghini on the auto bond.
· Have a ranch in Montana with horses.
· Visit every continent.
· Do a back flip.
· Adapt a child.
· Apologize for everything I’ve done wrong.
· Make enough money that I can buy one gift for my parents that will repay them for all the things they did for me.
· Walk on the London bridge.
· Graduate M.I.T. and become an engineer.
As parents we hope there is open communication, we know what our kids are going through, and that we have all the answers. Honest thoughts from your kids might surprise you. There are common themes over the years (I love my parents, they don't understand what I'm going through, etc.) but some will make you rethink your relationship between the parent and child. I hope this creates an opportunity to communicate and understand each other better.
"I wish my parents knew ____________________"
· I believe in myself.
· How much I love animals.
· That I’m scared and mean to people because almost everyone I’ve known is dead.
· How much I love my family.
· How good of parents they are.
· How not to be so strict.
· Sometimes they put too much stress on me.
· My dad to know I love him, he’s never really around.
· I might want to enlist into the army.
· Even though I get mad at them, I treasure every moment with them.
· I love dance more than anything.
· About video games.
· I “like” someone (and who it is).
· I am not perfect and I make mistakes.
· How much I miss my brother.
· I don’t want to be an architect.
· Everything at school socially is held up by a little twig and if you so much as breathe on it, it will crack and everything’s gone.
· I’m good at basketball.
· How grateful I am for everything.
· That my life hasn’t been good for a while.
· How I feel about moving and their decisions.
· How hard I work in school.
· I want them to help me.
· I love them and not to just abandon my sister, she needs help.
· I wish they were still together.
· There is more to life than politics.
· That when I have headphones on I can still hear the yelling and arguments, every word I can hear.
· That there’s a lot of pressure on me after my mom got hurt.
· How I feel when my sisters put me down.
· How stressed I am because of mom’s boyfriend and her always arguing.
· That I’m not the one that starts fights with my brother.
· That I will always love her, even if my dad left I will take care of her.
· My life isn’t the best life ever.
· I was the one who broke the mirror.
· That when I get upset and storm off that really I go to cry up in my room.
· More about what I’m doing in math so if I need help they would know what to do.
· When I get upset it might not be them, I probably had a bad day.
· That when I read I can’t remember what I read.
· People make mistakes and you can learn from them.
· I hate babies.
· The day I was born.
· Dad, thank you for working so hard for me and my sister to have a good life. Mom, thank you for caring for me and my sister for all this time.
· How to do math so they can help me.
· How much pressure they put on me in school.
· How I get really stressed out at school sometimes.
· How badly other students treated me in 4th grade.
· That I worry about me dad.
· How I feel when they say some things.
· That I want them back.
· That I’m trying hard in school.
· How much my knees hurt after practice.
· That I love them.
· I’ve never gotten truly mad at them.
· How hard it is to have homework from each class, study for three different tests, and get homework done in time.
· Me and my sister do get along.
· It’s hard to get good grade.
· I sometimes sneak downstairs at night and stay up till 1:00am on school days.
· I feel like they baby my little brother and they’re really tough on me.
· I stole candy when I was 5.
· It’s not always my fault.
· I have told them I’m fine when I’m not.
· How much I dislike school.
· I know they’re trying to get me to open up, but it won’t work.
· That I’m not always lazy and that they could see what I do at school.
· I’m not as smart as my sister.
· I try my best in school, and I don’t need more pressure on me.
· That I love them even though they yell at me a lot.
· That I have when my dad leaves every week for business trips.
· Through all the fighting I truly love them and could never ask for better people.
· That I play games that I can’t play at home.
· That complimenting me doesn’t make me feel better.
· That I loved them even though we fight sometimes and their divorced.
· I’m not my sister.
· More about what’s happening at school.
· I want my parents’ home all the time.
· I don’t say I love them enough.
· They did all they could to help me in everything I wanted to do.
· To know my feelings when I don’t want to express my feeling verbally.
· That I have an airsoft gun.
· I want them to have an amazing retirement.
· I have a lot of money that they don’t know about.
· I watched a sex video when I was in 3rd grade with my friend on accident.
· I’m doing okay, don’t worry about me.
· That I’m hopeful for them to beat their addictions.
· That I feel alone.
· That my sister is a brat behind their back.
· I want them around more.
· It’s going to be alright.
· That they are my role model
Having at least one good friend in your life that knows you better than anyone else is awesome, but many times they are the only ones that truly know you. There are may things people don't share with others for various reasons. For many though they're dying to have someone to talk to, or understand them. Be that great friend for someone, you may change their life, and they may change yours!
· I’m depressed.
· My hobbies and interests.
· It’s hard for me to know people when I was raised being told that I can’t trust people and shown that people only betray one another.
· I hate clowns.
· I would help them in any way I can if they asked.
· Life is short.
· I care about them and the environment.
· About my dyslexia so they would stop making fun of me.
· I’m really fun, and I like to draw.
· The truth about me.
· What animals go through in slaughter houses just so people can have burgers, bacon, chicken, etc.
· Running is my favorite sport.
· I am me no matter what other people think.
· The importance of believing in things, we can all believe in different things it matters most just to believe in something.
· How much I care for people that feel down and I want to help them be positive and happy.
· I’m a massive nerd.
· I have a good personality.
· I play a lot of sports because they don’t believe me.
· I have a hole in my heart and I have arthritis in my ankles.
· How hard my life is outside of school.
· A lot of the cool or funny stuff I do is on accident.
· I had a third brother who died as a baby.
· You might not realize it but your parents do everything they can for you.
· I don’t mean to make things worse, I try to help.
· What happened to my grandpa and why I don’t like to talk about it.
· I have dyslexia.
· My name.
· I’m not as confident in myself as I seem.
· How I really felt about them because I don’t like some people.
· That I like Lego’s.
· Why I play video games. They take me somewhere else than this world.
· I have asthma and what it is so I don’t have to explain it.
· How to treat others.
· How it feels to have divorced parents.
· I’m self conscious.
· People’s stories before judging others.
· I’m lonely, that I want my parents back.
· That I’m smart. I’m a cheerleader but I know things.
· That not everything’s funny.
· I’m a good person if they get to know me.
· I get sad easily.
· I’m extremely afraid of being alone in a room.
· I love soccer and animals.
· Cheer is a sport and it’s not easy.
· I’m smarter than I look.
· That I sing.
· That sometimes I just want to be alone.
· That we don’t have a lot of money so we can’t get a lot of good clothes.
· That I have a hard life and a lot of stress.
· I’m a good person once you get to know me.
· How to be kind to each other so that no one would fight.
· I hate fish.
· That not everybody has the same life as them.
· That it doesn’t matter if you’re pretty or popular because after high school nobody cares. Jobs don’t look for popularity and colleges don’t look for how pretty you are.
· I’m happy over my decisions, and people’s opinions do not change anything about who I am.
· I play soccer.
· That pollution is a bad thing and we need to stop it.
· I’m not stupid, I just play dumb.
· That I’m adopted.
· I was attacked by a dog at a young age.
· That I’m really good at go cart racing.
· How ugly I always feel.
· That I have been bullied.
· How not to be ignorant all the time.
· That I’m color blind.
· I’m weird – like really weird.
· How funny I am.
· Me for who I am.
· That I love to sing even though I have horrible stage fright.
· When I tumble and cheer, it makes me so happy.
· That I would do anything for my friends.
· I like school.
· That I’m shy because people don’t talk to me.
· My Snapchat.
· That I was here.
· That my parents are divorced.
· I’m Christian, and I get really uncomfortable when they say bad words or do bad and disgusting stuff.
· My dad died this year.
· What it feels like to have speech issues.
· I’m mixed black & Mexican and not just assume that I’m black.
· I wish other people knew I have Tourette syndrome.
· That I tap dance.
· Why I hate being hugged/touched.
· I don’t care what others think about me.
Copyright © 2018 Fred Kaiser - All Rights Reserved.