Before I Die…


Art installment in downtown Missoula

From a local media source: The board (pictured above) was the brainchild of New Orleans-based artist Candy Chang, who has a history of installing art projects in public spaces. Her goal is to bring communities together and start a dialogue between neighbors who might not ordinarily speak about such intimate topics.  Communities in 52 countries have worked with her to erect similar installations, including in Argentina, Kazakhstan, South Africa and Australia. Missoula’s was the 289th installation in the world.

The other day I stopped to check out our temporary art installation downtown as I drove past on my home from the library.  It’s only up for the month of September.  Perusing the answers written in chalk I was half expecting to see more drunken rants and explicit statements.  The board sits on the outside of a parking garage on a major corridor of where many bar hop every Friday and Saturday night.  And while there were immature and nonsensical answers scribed on the board I think ones that were thought-out and had meaning were more plentiful.

The answer I most appreciated was, Before I die I want to: feel more beautiful.  Beauty is a state of mind and one that is extremely challenging to cultivate for many of us.  I appreciated the contribution and hope that whoever wrote it will be able to discover that their beauty is not something created but embodied with our heart and spirit.  Beauty isn’t about the way we look, it’s about how we feel.  And, like most things, it’s a process of understanding that unfolds over time.  It’s easy to get caught up in our society’s definition of beauty which is unimaginative, shallow, and trite.  May we all unwrap our beauty from the inside.


The wire baskets provided to hold chalk for the installment were empty but after reading over the board and taking some pictures I found a small blue nub of chalk on the ground that I was able to use to add my answer among the lines.  As I thought about what to say nothing of real substance was springing to mind.  Sure I would like to go sky diving and write a book and travel more but I wanted to add something of more value.  I thought about positivity and optimism and came up with the simple answer: Never Stop Smiling (see pic below).


2 thoughts on “Before I Die…

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