Before I die

Before I die

Have you ever had one of those mornings when you just don’t want to wake up? Of course, who hasn’t.

You wake up wondering why. What’s the point? Why on earth am I awake to go to a class that in a couple of months won’t even matter? It’s not like I contribute anything valuable. Participation marks…pfft who really cares. And then you start asking yourself the bigger questions. Why am I even here? What is the point of anything anymore?

Now, trust me, I don’t frequent having these mornings. They can be a bittersweet blessing: often enlightening, but usually just a bummer. But it’s useful to question life every now and then. What am I doing today? Is it something I would want to be doing before I die?

Which reminded me of an art installation in a mall in Brampton (great place for an epiphany) that invited shoppers to fill in the statement “Before I die, I want to…” on a common wall painted with black chalkboard paint. The art project was created by New Orleans-based artist, Candy Chang, who painted the side of a house in her neighbourhood. The project spread around the world to countries like Kazakhstan, South Africa, Netherlands, Mexico and many more.

Art Installation at Bramalea City Centre in Brampton
One of the goals of the art installation is to showcase the values of the surrounding community.

I work in the mall and the installation has been up for a couple of months now. I try to walk by it as often as I can. There are the obviously silly answers: “I want to be spiderman,” “I want to marry [insert famous celebrity here],” “I want to witness the end of capitalism.” There were some thoughtful, selfless answers as well: “I want to find the cure for cancer,” “I want to save the world for Jesus.” Each time I walk by, I’m captivated by the people who have written on the wall. I’m curious as to what compelled them. Did they know right away what they wanted to say or did they hesitate? Did they go back to their shopping unchanged, or did they dwell on these thoughts through out the day?

This morning I looked for every and any reason that could keep me from getting up out of bed. I had already missed the early train. I was going to show up late to class. I felt a little sick. I had a full day of work that day. I would have to wake up my mom to give me a ride to the GO station. I was going to have to skip breakfast.

But for reasons beyond my knowledge, perhaps just out of habit, I got up. I woke up my mom and we had a nice ride to the station. When I walked towards the stairs of the corridor, a man opened the door for me. I whispered a “thank you” and he returned it with a cheerful “no problem.” My Ipod shuffle knew just what songs to play to lighten my mood. And the train conductor made a fool of himself by overshooting the platform at two different stations.

I’m a hesitater when I walk by that chalkboard wall. I don’t know if I could sum up what I want to do before I die into one concise statement. There are a lot of things I want to do. And there a lot of things I will never get to. But if I can at least take joy in the average, seemingly meaningless tasks of everyday, maybe all the rest of this life will make sense.

That’s a goal I can chalk up.

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