Do you believe in bucket lists? Not in the way that you would believe in Santa, or ghosts, or the now classic Book of Mormon tune; I mean, do you- would you do a bucket list?
I think that bucket lists are the optimistic version of ‘what I have not achieved before death‘. It is the glass that is half full, but the person holding it is realising that the room is getting hotter and hotter, and soon enough he is sitting in a sauna with the water dissipating into vapour.
I think I am daunted by the things I would like to achieve before I, you know, passed away. I am not really ok with the notion of death, even though a few years ago I proclaimed that I am totally comfortable with it. I remember during a philosophical discussion that could only take place within the confines of a student residence I said that I thought that death is absolutely normal, the end of the cycle, a part of life, and other Lion King wisdom. Then, my grandmother died, and the concept of her not existing anymore baffled me. I could not wrap my head around it, simply because it was void: I was required to accept the absence of something that was there one moment, and gone the next. I think I was (and still am) perplexed, not so much about the physical side, but mostly the ‘soul‘ side of it. Yes, the body is the vessel, but how, how on earth does this person’s essence dies? It is enormous, and beautiful, and ugly, and true, and fake, and powerful beyond words and emotions, so how can it just stop existing?
I had to come to terms with more losses in the past few years, and I am none the wiser. So as I was on the bus, listening to Being Boiled on repeat, my eye caught a big blackboard by the side of the street. I had walked by that spot so many times, and yet this was the first time I actually noticed it. I got off at the next stop, walked back, and looked closer.
The heading was ‘Before I Die’, and under it lines waiting to be filled. On the side there was a deposit of chalk. I started reading the entries, and there were wishes of wealth, travel and love, moments of humour and droplets of pain. I thought for a moment what I would write; my mind was blank. The only thing that came to mind was an answer that was as cliche as it was true: to live.
I stood and looked at it; there is something intensely powerful about it. The fact that you have to first erase someone else’s entry in order to write your own seemed to have an almost poetic quality, mirroring how sometimes in life, your wishes don’t come true because someone else’s did and how the cheers of your success might be a blanket over the sorrow of someone else’s failure.
I later googled the piece and I found out that it was by Candy Chang, and there are walls like this one around the world. A global bucket list, a chalk board mirror of the human nature, mortality, hope and the invisible threads that connect them. A chalk outline of a life that waits to be lived.