When artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang first installed “Before I Die” — a public artwork that invites passers-by to share their life’s wishes on the side of an abandoned New Orleans building — she had no idea that the project would become a global phenomenon. There are such walls in over sixty countries and there’s a book of some of her favorite responses. Since blind people can’t generally chalk their responses, I circulated the idea to several email lists populated by blind and visually-impaired individuals. Here are the responses I got. Most are quite similar to the chalked responses Chang reports, and a few are blindness-related.

Before I die:

  • I would like the opportunity to work in a bakery, or have a job doing fundraising. — Kim
  • Before I die, I want to see again.
  • Visit Australia and New Zealand.
  • Write and publish a book
  • Before I die I want to walk the length of the United States from East to West and back again and North to South or North East to South West and back again. — Sukosh Fearon A.K.A. Robert Henry Fearon III
  • Before I die, I want to feel healthy and pain-free. I’d like to write a book about finding a good diet that most people can actually afford that will achieve optimal health. — David Faucheux, FMS sufferer
  • Before I die, I want to work for a company that is as good as Google is said to be and genuinely wants blind employees.
  • Before I die, I want to have a stable, respectful same-sex relationship. No running around on the side and acting slutty behind my back. — Anonymous
  • Before I die, I want to be free of the criticisms of blind organizations and have a balance of blind and sighted friends.
  • Before I die, I want to be included in a supportive church family that will even help me find a ride to church events and services. Going alone is isolating and boring. Disheartening even.
  • Before I die, I want to make a difference somewhere, somehow, someway. Something that really matters. —David Faucheux, MLIS
  • Before I die I want to have the joy of doing a long-term project from start to finish and being at ease while doing it even when the going gets a little rough. — Chris Coulter
  • I would like to be in the arms of a sweet loving gentleman.
  • Visit the Hawaiian islands.
  • Go skydiving. — Bob Hachey
  • Before I die, I want to train an unbroake horse to ride and be gentle for children to ride. — Linda Palmer
  • I would like to see. I also wish there could be human eye transplants so all blind people could see.
  • Before I die I want to visit Australia, England and Ireland. — Mich Verrier
  • I’d like to see my youngest visually impaired daughter (she’s 20) get dental implants. She was born missing ½ her permanent teeth. Dental implants for her will cost over $10,000.
  • Before I die I want to see Gallant Hearts Guide Dog Center build a state of the Art kennel with meeting room, offices for Gallant hearts, and an apartment so that someone will be with the dogs, overnight.
  • Have enough spare money to make donations to many charities that I feel are meritorious. These are not all blindness related but they have had some connection with my life, my family or my interests. Even a small amount would suffice. — Steve Hoad
  • Ride horseback through the Highlands of Scotland in the early Fall.
  • Take an Alaskan cruise beside someone special with lots of trips ashore for hikes, tours and museum explorations.
  • Camp in the Grand Tetons of Canada.
  • Spend time in the Smoky Mountains.
  • Get to groom breeds of horses in Ireland and Scotland that we rarely see in the U.S.
  • Experience the Aurora Borealis.
  • I want to become a mother who raises her child with no limitations.

Two last entries say it all:

  • Wishing all of you the opportunity to experience all of your chosen “Before I die” items! — Shirley Manning
  • Before i die, i want to laugh with the wind cry with the rain sing with the birds and touch colour again. i want to give of my mind my soul too. i want to dance and rejoice in the glory of what nature offers me. i want to wake early in the morning to hear the first birds sing to listen to the sun rise and to feel the wind on my skin to laugh and listen as the little stream lets gurgle over the little stones. i want to hear the winds as they blow and whisper through the pine trees and to smell the scent of the rich blue gum trees. i want to hear the merry kookaburras as they laugh merrily at the dawn and all so to hear the sound of the soft sweet doves as they coo their delight to the morning. before i die i want to run into a waterfall naked and with my face upturned to the wind to melt and become like the droplets of water that cling to my being and then i want to lie in the soft grass and gently close my eyes and drift up into the wind. before i die i want to jump out of an airplane and freefall and then laugh and shout at my reasons for being alive. then i want to go to my garden and pick a rose take it to my nose and enhale its escence. before i die i want to take the hand of my best friend and tell them that i love them and then with a gemtle smile I’d drift away. hugs to all that read this. — janaleen
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