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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, dancing and good movies.  

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"What I want to do before I die?" Candy Chang and John Lennon can help you answer that question

Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we'll both just have to be patient
'Cause it's a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes it's a long way to go
But in the meantime 

Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans 

John Lennon, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)
(Double Fantasy, 1980)

While getting older, I find myself confronted almost on a daily basis with: friends who are getting married, who are starting a family and having children, who are falling in love, who are buying a house or moving to another city or making a career makeover... 

I am not yet much confronted with death, but it happens sometimes to hear that someone I love has been losing a friend, a relative, a loved one.

In the song "Beautiful Boy" John Lennon says that life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans. Life is somehow difficult to be planned and we are used to think that we have a lot of time. We are used to say: "One day, I will do this and that". We are used to take a lot of things for granted. 
Things that are not granted at all: being healthy, having friends, being safe at home, enjoying freedom (of choice, of speech, of religion...), having something to eat, having a job and, most of all, being alive.

We are not here to live forever and I think that we should ask ourselves more often what we really want do with our lives. What we want to achieve, what we want to feel, what we want to see, what we want to listen, what we want to learn. What we want to leave behind, when we are gone.

[Art installation Before I Die by Candy Chang
Image source: Candy Chang.Com]

Yesterday I stumbled upon Candy Chang's brilliant art installation Before I Die and I found the idea wonderful and full of joy of life. In Candy's words, Before I Die is:

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you. When I lost someone I loved very much, I thought about death a lot. This helped clarify my life, the people I want to be with, and the things I want to do, but I struggled to maintain perspective. 
I wondered if other people felt the same way. So with help from old and new friends, I painted the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with a grid of the sentence “Before I die I want to _______.” 
Anyone walking by could pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives, and share their personal aspirations in public space.

What I want to do before I die?

It is a powerful, difficult and yet beautiful question. Take your time by replying. But it's important to ask yourself at least once what you really want to do. Before it will be too late. So you can sooner start working on it.

What do you want to do before you die?
Falling deeply in love with someone? Learning a new language? Visiting a foreign country? 
Taking your life, your loved ones and your freedom less for granted?

Tags: Candy Chang, Before I Die, Art installation, Death, Joy of Life