“Before I Die I Want To___________”

I’ve been writing some heavier than usual stuff lately, since my husband died, and I’m getting kind of sick of myself. So in my new, lighter (and, most likely, welcome) vein, I’d like to share the gist of a U-T San Diego front page article that recently grabbed me. Here’s the headline:  

Before I die, I want to …”

Sorry, couldn’t resist *smile* . . . but the piece has a really cool photo of a global art project at the corner of Richmond and University, started by Candy Chang of New Orleans and brought to San Diego by local artist Andrew Barajas. The project is a giant chalkboard with “Before I die I want to__________” inscribed a million columned times, and passers-by are invited to grab chalk and fill in a blank.   

The point of the project is to encourage people to reflect on their lives, which most of us don’t do often enough (because, why? aren’t we going to live forever?).

The filled-in blanks run the gamut from “Meet Oprah” to “Go to China,” to “Live Fully!” to “Fail Everyday.”

But what I especially love—and I mean love—is the number of times the word “love” is used. There’s “Love Myself,” “Love Forever,” “Find Love,” “Love Everyone,” and so on. 

So of course I got to thinking what pithy thing I’d write in my own blank. I’ve done a bunch already with my life (because I’ve had a lot of it—I’m not young). I’ve traveled. I’ve seen the world’s most beautiful things and people—and I’ve been moved to tears by unbelievable want and squalor. I’ve worked hard and played hard. I’ve been careful with money and loose with love. I married the right person for me. I’ve had incredible happiness. I’ve had sadness (I appreciate my happiness). I’ve been lucky, and I’ve been cheated. I wrote a book. Two of them, actually. The first one makes for super shelf paper. The second is getting great reviews and selling—simply put: the above is the yin and yang of life. So, what have I missed, or want to make sure I don’t miss?

Actually, this really wasn’t a hard exercise. My former blank reads:

“Before I die, I want to make sure each of my friends knows how much I love and appreciate them.”

For who they are, their own unique specialness. And for the big belly laughs; for being silly with me, and for the hand-holding and instant understandings, and for the space, knowing it’s not necessarily you, but maybe me who needs aloneness to recharge; and for the encouragement and patience—and to the creatives who walk with me, for the beauty of your amazing art, whether drawn, written, photographed, danced, sung, interior-designed, planted—whatever. But not just for your work; for your special joy also. Creatives know their passion; their comfort spot, their “home,” and that inspires me and expands my universe. It’s reassurance that the world we inhabit is a magical place after all. You’re the magic.

Profiles of two recent magical friend encounters: The Playola piece above (and below) was created by teacher and artist, Ana Seeley, visiting San Diego from North Carolina last week … “Playola” is three feet tall, two feet wide, constructed of poster board and construction paper, and cardboard for structure strength. The colors—simple tempura paint—were painstakingly matched to the original you-know-what. C’mon, I know you’re smiling.   

And Geri Wilson, photographer and blogger, posted a collection of rose “portraits” that she photographed at San Diego’s gorgeous Balboa Park. Amazing. Have a good new week, everybody, but before you go, check out the rose collection (while maybe contemplating what you’d write in your own “Before I die I want to________” ?)