My 14-year old daughter wrote this paper for her English. I love it so much and I think the message is so appropriate for the divorced mom, that I felt compelled to share it. I asked my daughter and she said yes! If there is one thing I learned about getting cancer and facing my own very real mortality is this: It taught me how to live in ways that were profound and amazing. I hope it doesn’t take a terrifying illness for others to learn this important lesson.
Enjoy the article! It was one of those “ah-ha” moments for me.
What’s most important to you?
What’s important to you? By knowing the answer to that question, we can focus our lives and do something that matters to us. Like traveling, going to college and picking a career we will like, getting married to the right person, what age to have children or whether to have children at all, what religion we want to be, or even how we want to treat others. I would like to figure out what’s important to me. I think it will help me make choices in my future.
Discovering what is important to you, however, is not easy. How to get people, young or old, to live a better life and dream? That is the question that Candy Chang is helping others answer by simply filling in the blank: Before I die, _______. If you can answer that, Candy believes, you can live a more purposeful life. After all, it’s hard to make good decisions if we don’t even know what matters to us.
You might ask who is Candy Chang. Candy is a Taiwanese-American artist who lives in New Orleans. The Before I Die project started near her home with an abandoned building. Candy wondered how she could make that eyesore better. With a lot of creativity, she eventually turned that building into a big Before I Die wall where anyone could walk by, take out a piece of chalk, and fill in sentence: Before I die, _______. First, she got permission to paint the house with chalkboard paint, stenciled in the words Before I Die, and left out a lot of chalk. She then waited to see what would happen. By the next day, there were responses all over the house and growing by the hour. Some of the answers were: I want to plant a tree; I want to sing for millions; straddle the international dateline; see my daughter graduate.
People took photos and started posting them on social media. That got others wanting a Before I Die Wall near them. Since that first project in New Orleans, there are Before I Die walls in more than 500 cities, 70 countries and 25 different languages.
One such place is in Coconut Grove, Florida. The city did an I Will _____ wall. It is 25-feet long and made of ordinary plywood. All they needed was a can of black chalkboard paint and rainbow-colored chalk. The wall was put up at Bet Ovadia synagogue along the city’s main highway facing a popular jogging path.
According to the Miami Herald, the place for the board was selected because it wasn’t a great place. Recently a deadly house fire killed seven Jewish children. Now the board is there and it reads on one side “to make a better world” and on the other side “I will _____” so that people can write their hopes and dreams. Some of the people wrote things like: I will help a poor person. I will adopt a dog (maybe). I will learn a new language.
Now that there is the wall, the area is becoming a popular place for people to stop, talk, read, meet new people, think and write. It gives them a chance to maybe make a different life, make new choices, or do something important.
The group who put the project together stumbled across photographs of a similar project called “Before I Die” and they got to work. It didn’t take long to do, or much money.
I think this is a fantastic idea. It not only helps others prioritize their life, but it also creates a very cool visual wherever they go up, whether they be an abandoned building, a board near a high traffic street, in a library, or in front of a school. Now this is an idea that I think would benefit our school. It will help students think outside the box with what they want to do in their life. The boards don’t cost a lot of money to do either and can be done anywhere. At American Fork Junior High, we could have a wall in the library or to the side of the school. I think it would really start a conversation among students and my friends about what they want to do with their life. It would help me, too.
If I were to answer this question, I would answer I want to have a family. I want to save someone’s life. I want to have a house. I want to go to an orphanage and help make the place they live in better. I was born in Russia and I spent the first two years of my life in an orphanage before my mom adopted me. I would like to make a child’s life better, too. Just answering this question is helping me discover what is important to me. Until writing this paper, I never did this before. Maybe I will make different choices and it all happened because of the Before I Die board idea that started in New Orleans by a girl who wanted to make an ugly building prettier.