28th Nov – Pick Up The Camera, Elly

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.