"It's like taking a nap on that little rug when you were in kindergarten."

Before I die I want to …

How would you finish the statement, “Before I die I want to                 .”

It’s the start of a new year and an excellent time to reflect on what we want to accomplish in 2014. We dream of the potential of 365 new beginnings. Perhaps we even take it so far as to project the conversation we might have at the end of this year – clicking off all those goals on our “to-do” list that have been achieved.

But … what if we knew we didn’t have all 525,600 minutes this year? Would we do things differently?

Before I Die I Want to _____.

Candy Chang posted that statement on the wall of an abandoned house in New Orleans as she was coming to terms with the loss of someone close to her. So many people posted on that wall within one day, that it took her completely by surprise.

Soon, through word-of-mouth, communities were wanting to start walls in their neighborhoods. It would explode into a worldwide art project, and eventually the experiment was documented in a book.

before i die, book

It’s the ultimate statement that forces us to reflect on simple, shallow, complex, and deep emotions. We ponder what our needs, wants, and desires are all at once. And uniquely, no two people would fill in that blank in the same way.

When I Googled “Before I Die” here’s a sampling of what popped up:

Before I die I want to …

– watch a movie with my parents in the cinema.
– stay with the person whom I love.
– change somebody’s life.
– be proud of myself.
– have a baby.
– meet Drew Barrymore.
– speed on the Autobahn.
– forgive someone for something considered unforgivable.
– be content.
– take a trip around the world.
– write a novel.
– realize how special I am.
– go whale watching.

It’s interesting to read what someone else wants to do before they die, and even harder to answer that yourself. I’ve kicked this around in my head, as I’ve researched and thought about this post.

My Statement

Before I die I want to live fearlessly.

Here’s a video of Candy Chang’s TEDTalk. Well worth a listen:


How would you fill in the blank? Before I die I want to                           .


  1. Kristy K. James says:

    Sigh. I so didn’t get enough sleep for a question requiring this much thought, MJ. No, I wasn’t partying, I was reading a good book…and every time I said, “I’m just going to read through to the end of this chapter,” I would say it again at the beginning of the next. And the next, next, and next. Do I know how to celebrate New Year’s Eve or what? 😀

    You have a great goal. I’m too chicken to make that one of my mine though. I once had the owner of a store tell me there were ways to get over my fear of heights. I told him I didn’t care to learn them. :)

    It is a good question though. I couldn’t answer it with just one answer though. There are way to many things. What would I like to do?

    -Learn to become efficient.
    -Find someone to cure my cousin of a lifetime of blindness, my son of autism, and everyone I love and care about of every health problem they have.
    -Hit the NY Times bestseller list…at least once.
    -Live in a log house on a private lake.
    -Earn enough from my writing to do nice things for others every day…like secretly pay for a meal for a family at a restaurant, pay the rent for someone who is having a tough month, or the groceries for someone at the checkout who doesn’t have enough to cover what they put in their cart.

    So many things I’d like to do, and so little time to do them. Why is it we tend to remember how short life really is at this time of year?

    • Wow, Kristy, those were some fantastic things to hope for. I particularly like:
      – “Earn enough from my writing to do nice things for others every day…like secretly pay for a meal for a family at a restaurant, pay the rent for someone who is having a tough month, or the groceries for someone at the checkout who doesn’t have enough to cover what they put in their cart.”

      That would be really cool. I would love to make a living through the blog and social media, but it requires more time and effort than I can give while working.

      Cheers to your 2014.

    • Kristy K. James says:

      Just closed the window where I pasted this when the ghost was being a pain. I need to add one more thing to that list. Stop commenting on blogs when I’m tired because I seem to forget the difference between to, too, and two. 😀

  2. Wow this is such a brilliant idea, thank you for pointing out the project mj, I’m going to look into it more!

    Wishing you a wonderful and fearless 2014. :)

  3. Hi MJ,
    Welcome back! I love this post, and I think you’ve chosen well. I could add a very large number of wishes to my “Before I die” list, but if I were just to live my life fearlessly, they would all happen as a result of that one choice.
    Best wishes to you for the New Year!

  4. Years ago I was misdiagnosed with Stage IV. They were wrong, I am still here. But I was most sad that I thought I’d never get back to Venice, which I visited in 1998 and fell in love with. It is the most magical place.

    Happy New Year, MJ!

    • That must have been very emotional being misdiagnosed. I’ve always wanted to go to Venice and many other old-world cities in Italy. I recall hearing something about Venice starting to have infrastructure issues. Have you heard that?

      Cheers to 2014!

  5. Great post, MJ! (For some reason, I haven’t been able to comment on your earlier posts. WP keeps locking me out and saying I don’t have sufficient permission to comment. WTH?)

    Before I die, I want to write a book (or several books), make a joyful (ethical) million bucks and help others to do the same, celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary with Marty, magically cure my rosacea, and train my eyes back to perfect 20/20 vision. That’s just off the top of my head– there are many, many other things I’d like to do before I die!

    • Dang it, Dana. I don’t know what the problem is. Hopefully I’ve fixed it now. I toyed with the admin page, so fingers crossed. You know I would never deny anyone permission to comment. :)

      I would love to read your book. You have a great storytelling style. You and Marty will have a great 50th,

      Are you thinking about LASIK?

  6. Before I die I want to

    take the “Polar Bear Plunge” into the Atlantic on New Year’s Day (and not have a heart attack after)
    Visit so many other countries, especially Italy, Greece
    Get something published, ANYthing, but a book would be sweet
    Have grandkids I can spoil rotten
    Work with cancer patients in some way to help them and their families heal
    Learn how to play the violin
    Sing a solo in a concert again

    Great post, MJ. I have lots more but I don’t want to bore you to tears. Happy New Year to you!

    • D-Wow, you must keep your family hopping – whhhaaattt the … Polar Bear Plunge??? That cracked me up. I don’t think I could do it. However, I have surfed in 52 degree water, which was um, freezing!

      I’ll read your book. You definitely have it in you. I think you should do a memoir-type book. You tell a story very well.

      Here’s to your continued blogging success, nursing success, and family joy in 2014!

  7. Dennis Blanchard says:

    Technically, I’ve already “died” once. No, I’m not a comedian, they die on the stage, all the time. Almost seven years ago I underwent a six-artery heart bypass operation. It went VERY well. As part of that operation they stop your heart, bring it down to near freezing, work on it, then restart it. In the meantime, a machine keeps pumping your blood. You’re sorta dead.

    Going into the operation, I asked the fellow shaving my chest, “What are my odds of making it through this?” He didn’t know, so he went off and asked and was told that it was “One out of a hundred don’t make it.” As I noted in my book, those are not bad odds if you’re buying a lottery ticket, but takes your breath away if it is your chance of surviving a surgery.

    After the operation, I was talking with my daughter, Áine, about the experience. I recall telling her that, if I had actually died during the surgery, I would have died a happy man. I was sixty at the time and had lived a very full life. There were some bad moments, such as war, hunger, loss of loved ones, etc., but those moments just make the good ones, all that much better. The good moments have been fantastic. I married the woman of my dreams (we just celebrated meeting each other, forty-years ago), had some great kids, adventures, such as hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail, The Camino in Spain, and backpacking around Europe for a summer. I’ve eaten fabulous foods everywhere, drank wine in France, visited the WW II Normandy beaches (you’d have to experience that to appreciate it), raced bicycles and published books.

    People often equate wealth, financial wealth, with success and happiness. I would argue that “experience” wealth is far richer and creates lasting memories.

    Thanks, once again, MJ, for the thought inspiring topic. I haven’t been around here in a while, I’ve been too busy working on the next book, about my father’s adventures in the 82nd Airborne in WW II. It is quite a story! (http://wheredaddroppedin.com/ )

    In answer to your question, I’d have to say I’ve answered, “After I died.”

    • That’s amazing, Dennis. You probably have a much greater appreciation for life than the average person. To have come back the way you did is quite a story.

      I saw a documentary on El Camino. Quite a fascinating spiritual experience, from what I gleaned from that show. Would be very cool.

      Well, you’ve led a very full life, and I completely agree that life is more about our experiences than money or success.

      I hope your new book is widely read and appreciated. I will check out that link. The 82nd has a rich history.

  8. So happy you are back on the blogging scene–I missed you! My wishes before I die are to see my grandkids grow up and to publish a book or two!

  9. A thoughtful way to begin the New Year. Before I die
    – I want to know that my family is happy and healthy
    – I want to see that all people are happy and healthy.
    – I want all animals to be treated well and live in loving homes.

    Of course, I’d also like world peace, but I think that’d be pushing it.

    • I’ve come to know you as a very compassionate person, Judy. You really care about people and animals – such a very good example!

      World peace would be nice, but there aren’t enough “Judys” out there to make that happen. :)

  10. Watch my daughter at her first book signing.
    When that happens, I’ll be content.
    Thanks for this, buddy.
    This was fun.

  11. MJ, lovely to hear your voice again. Interesting question, especially as this year I am refusing to do any sort of retrospective post. I’ve thought about this question at various times and the list changes regularly. Today I would say learn Swedish and Russian, renovate an old house, build the house of my dreams and represent Australia at one Finnish Independence Day Ball :)
    If none of these come to pass, I’ve still lived a great life – which just gets better every year.

    • Thank you, Kanerva. Oh my gosh, learning Swedish and Russian?? You are ambitious, Icelandic-loving friend.

      That would be very cool to represent Australia. Can I be an honorary Australian.

  12. Happy New Year, Mike! Before I die I want to live just ONE DAY when “Money is no object.” Currently living paycheck to paycheck.

  13. cool question to start 2014, MJ and to live fearlessly, yeah, that is good too. i guess for me…to be given the wisdom to know exactly what my purpose is here on earth and to finish it before my last breath. not a hard request, i am thinking. :)
    …so wonderful to see you posting again. cheers!! :)

    • Thank you, Sunshine. I try to come up with cool questions – sometimes successfully, other times, not so much. :)

      So glad to see you on the blog and your totally sweet sunshine gravatar.

  14. My first inclination is to say, be content. But I like the movement and action in your statement, live fearlessly. :) Here’s to 2014 and living fearlessly!

Love to hear from you.

%%POSTLINK%% is a post from: mj monaghan