I first learned of the Before I Die project when one of my close friends wrote a blog about participating in a workshop inspired by the project. The project was created when Candy Chang, an artist who had lost someone she loved, painted the sentence, “Before I die I want to______” in chalkboard paint on an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood. The next day, the wall was full of personal aspirations and reflections from those that had picked up a piece of chalk to share a piece of themselves in a public space.
Although the exercise was to choose one thing that you want to do before you die, my friend chose three. This past weekend, I was so honored to witness her put a line through the first thing that she wanted to do before she died, which was to sing in an R&B band. Backed by a 5-piece band and 3 background singers, her voice was flawless, her outfit was fabulous, and her fearlessness was inspiring.
Here are 5 lessons that my friend’s experience taught me about living life to the fullest before I die:
1. Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying
Ok, so it might sound cooler if you picture me saying it in my Morgan Freeman voice. But it’s one of my favorite lines from the movie Shawshank Redemption. For me, it’s a reminder of just how short our time on this earth really is. Like a grain of salt dropped into the ocean. Wow, right? Put into perspective, I realize there’s no time to talk about what I am going to do next year, next week, or heck—even tomorrow. My friend wrote her bucket list in January and by the end of February, she had already scratched one item off the list. While you are standing still, the clock is ticking. It’s time to decide what you want to do and get busy!
2. Go Deep
No, I’m not talking about a football play. I’m talking about going deep within. If you were to walk up to the Before I Die wall right now what would you write? If you’re not sure, take a moment to contemplate what you really want to accomplish in this life. Then write it down. There is power in the written word. When you release your dreams out into the universe, no matter how crazy they might seem, you create an energy that attracts what you desire. Not sure if you can do it alone? Then get a call a few friends and do it together. Through sharing your dreams, you will learn more about yourself and more about each other.
3. Really Good Is Good Enough
I got that little gem from communications stylist Nikki Elledge Brown. I can tell you for sure that if I was in front of the Before I Die wall, I know what I would do. Exactly what I always do. Overanalyze it. What should I write? How do I choose one thing? Is this deep enough? What will the person next to me think about it? I better go home and put some thought into it before I write anything. I end up spending so much time thinking about what I am going to do and how to make it perfect that I don’t always get around to actually doing it. If you are like me, it’s time to get out of your head and stop overthinking everything. Whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done. Just do it. Launch it. Share it.
4. Trade Fear For Faith
I’m pretty sure the whole overthinking everything is mostly based on fear. It seems like the closer you are to achieving your goal, the scarier it feels. When the “what ifs” start to overpower the “what’s next” replace the feeling of fear with the power of faith. Trust that you already have everything you need to accomplish whatever goals you have set. And what you don’t have, the universe will bring it to you.
5. Your Story Is Powerful
My friend’s ability to boldly share her dream has truly inspired me. And I know I’m not the only one. Never underestimate the power of your story. Sometimes it is just what somebody needs to hear to be encouraged to make a decision, pursue an opportunity, or try something new.
Empowered by these lessons, I am going to spend some time—but not too much time—figuring out what I want to do before I die. You do the same and we’ll reconvene to share our bucket lists in a few weeks.
Here are few pics from my friend’s show: