Do You Have a "Before I Die..." List?

I've walked by this mortality street art project something like 20 times, always mentally threatening to add my two cents. But I never do.

May 23, 2012 at 10:33am | Leave a comment

Some people consider me a pretty adventurous person despite the fact that I hate "activities" and anything that'll "sweat out my hair."

When I say I went to college across the country as a 17-year-old-been-kissed-once virgin who'd only rode a plane once before, they say, "Wow. Really?" When I say I've sunbathed half-naked on an ancient rooftop in the Old Medina in Marrakech, they say, "No way, Jose." I've also been in a buffalo stampede, but that's a summer camp story for another time.

Usually my response to any exclamation is something like, "It just happened." Because that's the truth. The wind will suggest something like, "Hey, why don't we take that six-seater plane to that island we heard about that one time." And boom, I end up "stranded" in Puerto Rico for an extra day, which is why I'm writing this post from a mildewy room on the cheesy hotel strip. So not my thing.

Which brings me of course to ruminations on mortality and a street art project near my house in DC I've been meaning to ask you all about for a while. 

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Sitting on a gentrifying corner on 14th Street Northwest, "Before I die..." was created by two friends who lost three grandparents in 2010 and 2011. Before passersby got all crazy on it, the installation was a morbid Mad Lib of sorts, beckoning folks to write down public displays of immortality. 

I've walked by the wall of "What would you do" something like 20 times, always mentally threatening myself to add my two cents. But I never do.

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It's not because I don't think about what I'd like to do before I die -- learn to drive a car, read a map, and maybe poop out a baby -- but because I'm insanely superstitious. Yep, you read that right, writing my random goals down would in my mind effectively make them too cheesy to actually achieve.

Speaking my dreams into the universe (or praying as some people call it) is all good, but writing them down always freaks me out. Good thing I don't wrestle with the alphabet often, huh. Oh wait. Doh!

I know vision boards, Pinterest and who knows what else, are all the rage these days. But what really happens to the stacks of pages you've filed away for the future? Are you going back through those lists, creating a Venn diagram, making a master list and then ticking off life's checkmarks? And what happens when you've done "everything"?

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Forgive me for quoting my most-watched movie in 11th grade, but life really is like a box of chocolates. If you ride it without a GPS, you'll probably have a lot more fun getting where you're going. But then again you've got to have a general direction. Or do you? 

Off the top of my head, I'd say that "antes de morir" (before I die) I'd like to meet an alien who wasn't trying to rule me, ride a shark's back to a deserted island and teach Miles to speak English. None of that will probably happen, which is coolio. That way no one gets hurt by my failure, no one, of course being me. But you all I know have the courage to drop notes in your own life suggestion boxes. Tell me yours and perhaps I'll get brave enough to tell me mine.