Sunday, May 26, 2024

Before I Die by Candy Chang

Written by Suditi Shayana (Grade 12)


“Preparing for death is one of the most empowering things you can do. Thinking about death clarifies your life” -Candy Chang

Personally, an art piece that has impacted my life significantly is Before I Die. It is an art project which was originally created by Candy Chang. “Before I die I want to _________” were the words written by Candy Chang on chalkboard paint and stenciled.

Candy Chang lost someone she loved, and as a way to restore the outlook and seek consolation with her neighborhood. The article published on Candy Chang’s website says: “By the next day, the wall was entirely filled out and it kept growing: Before I die I want to… see my daughter graduate — sing for millions — abandon all insecurities — get my wife back — be someone’s cavalry — tell my mother I love her — make a livable wage — follow my childhood dream — have a student come back and tell me it mattered — hold her one more time — be completely myself.”

One major reason for the importance of this art project in my life is the fact that anyone passing by the walls of the city could pick up a chalk and express their thoughts and feelings on death and their aspirations that come before it. The public interaction aspect helps us scuffle with mortality and meaning of a modern community. This particular art piece is such a huge inspiration for me. It has such a significant impact because it teaches me that time doesn’t heal wounds when the wounds happen to be the lost time. There are so many things I aspire to do, I want to live, love, fight battles, smile, travel, create but often I find myself in a slump. This masterpiece reminds me that life is worth living, and death is inevitable. So I might as well come to terms with that and tick off every single thing on my list.

This art project resonates with me because it reminds me of my favourite poem which perfectly encapsulates how I view death:

“Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

“Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at nqight.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;

I am not there. I did not die.”

Here are my final thoughts on “Before I Die” by Candy Chang:

Before I die, I want to see the northern lights.

Before I die, I want to love someone and be loved.

Before I die, I want to own a beach house.

Before I die, I want to go to the airport and buy tickets for a random flight and go on a spontaneous vacation.

Before I die, I want to have the perfect wedding.

Before I die, I want to write a book.

Before I die, I want to grow old.

Before I die, I want to write on the Before I Die wall in New Orleans

and most importantly,

Before I die, I want to make an impact.


Featured Image Courtesy – Bios Urn



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