Before I Die: Washington sign stirs conversation, deep thoughts

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – A new sign along Market Street is stirring deep thoughts among those who encounter it.

The large chalkboard includes three words, Before I Die, to help get the conversation started. Below, scribes complete the end of a sentence which begins with I Want To.

Locals say it’s helping them contemplate on the world we live in and what they hope to achieve.

“It’s not what you think of everyday,” said Jonah Recko, Rachel K’s barista. “You don’t wake up and think, ‘What should I do before I die? You wake up just thinking about the next day and what to do. You never think of the long term, like what you’ve wanted to do.”

It’s the brainchild of artist Candy Chang. Her website describes the wall in the following manner:

BEFORE I DIE IS A PARTICIPATORY PUBLIC ART PROJECT that invites people to contemplate death, reflect on life, and share their personal aspirations in public. After losing someone she loved, Chang channeled her grief and depression into this project on an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood to restore perspective and find some consolation with her neighbors. She covered the crumbling house with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with the prompt, “Before I die I want to _____.” The wall quickly filled up with responses, from the poetic to the profound: Before I die I want to… see my daughter graduate, abandon all insecurities, get my wife back, eat all the candy and sushi in the world, be a Youtube sensation, straddle the International Date Line, tell my mother I love her, be completely myself.

In Washington on Wednesday, a 9 On Your Side photographer captured responses from locals such as I want to… Have a better relationship with my mother, get a greenlight, go to Greece, Advocate and help people who suffer from mental illness. Jog Central Park!, and fall in Love, among others.

According to Chang’s website, there are over 2,000 Before I Die walls have now been created in over 70 countries, including Iraq, China, Brazil, Kazakhstan, and South Africa.

The Washington is currently located at Rachel K’s and will move at the end of the month.

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