It's been a while since I've picked up my DSLR and taken photos just because. Mostly because it's too heavy. I find I end up just taking instagram-esque shots with my phone - it's just easier but oh, the quality. It's on the list to learn how to use my camera proper, and to do that I need to pick it up. So, for the next week or so I'm going to take at least one okay photo everyday. We'll see how it goes, here's todays.
A local Before I Die wall (originally by Candy Chang). From the website:
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 with help from old and new friends, 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, hold her one more time, straddle the International Date Line, see my daughter graduate, eat more everything, abandon all insecurities, plant a tree, follow my childhood dream, 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 receiving many requests, she created a toolkit to help people make a wall with their community. You can also download all files for free to create your own stencils. Thanks to passionate people around the world who have spearheaded their own walls, over 425 Before I Die walls have now been created in over 25 languages and over 60 countries, including Kazakhstan, Portugal, Japan, Denmark, Iraq, Argentina, and South Africa. Each wall is unique and reflects the people of that community. Each wall is a tribute to living an examined life. 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.