arts and pop culture | June 19, 2013

Love, Learn, Listen: My Addition To Candy Chang's Before I Die Project

The concept of Candy Chang's Before I Die wall seems simple enough: Write out one item from your bucket list on a public chalkboard. While I've written about the project many times, I've never seen one of the walls in person. So when I approached the installation at the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee this past weekend, I knew I had to make a contribution. I'm truly glad that I did.

It took nearly 20 minutes to find a piece of chalk. So many people had written out their dreams that almost every piece was reduced to a tiny nub barely big enough to write with. The wall itself was so full that it took some scouting to find a space big enough for my own addition. While I waited for a little piece of chalk to be passed along the line of festival-goers and over to me, there were about a million thoughts racing through my head. First of all, I was thinking about what my own carving should say. At the same time, I was struck by how touching some of the other contributions were. It was then that I realized how powerful a simple blackboard and piece of chalk could be. The wall forced us to think about what we really want out of life. But perhaps more importantly, it allowed us the opportunity to hear what others around us—some we may never meet—dream of as well.

I remember being slightly taken aback that most people didn't cover up the words of others to make room for their own. And even when there was overlap, I couldn't add something without first reading what someone before me had written. It really did bring all of us together in that moment. In Chang's speeches, she talks about the important role that public spaces play in tying together communities and improving our world. After I finished writing on the wall, I really understood what she was talking about. We can learn from personal introspection and the collective wisdom of others. I passed the chalk to the next eager person and walked away. The words I left behind were these: Before I Die I Want To Love, Learn, and Listen.

—Sarah Moore, Marketing Writer

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