Before I die, I want to…?  

This is quite a risky subject for a blog post, so my apologies if it is too stark or comes at a bad time, but it seems that this really is the ultimate question. And it’s a great question for this time of year, when we start thinking of what we will do, to fill up this empty 12 months that seems to stretch out in front of us!

There seem to be a lot of people around me right now pondering that question. There have been quite a few funerals to attend of late and lots of difficult news arriving.  Perhaps it’s my imagination – they say that if you start noticing something, you tend to notice it more and more. It’s like the thing where you get a new car and then see the same model and colour everywhere!

Having our mortality brought clearly into our field of vision does funny things to people.  Whether you have a close family member die, or find out that you or someone close to you has a life limiting diagnosis, or something else happens, it does tend to jolt us out of our normal reality.

When faced with the fact that we really do have a finite amount of time on this planet, we are forced to decide how we will spend that precious time. Some people will want to spend more time with family, others will set forth on an adventure and do the travelling they have always said they will do, some will just decide to get their affairs in order and carry on as before – we are all different.

I stumbled upon a great talk by Candy Chang , who on contemplating a close friends death, decided  to turn a disused building into a giant blackboard.  She then asked passing people to complete the statement “Before I die, I want to….” using chalk! (Do take a look at the video…its poignant and funny. The first man wrote “Before I die I want to… be tried for piracy!”).

I’ve been reading Steven Pressfield’s  classic “The War of Art” in which he notes that when faced with a terminal diagnosis, people will often just start doing the creative things they have wanted to do for years, usually painting or writing.

I am not seeking to scare you into action…that helps no-one,  but we can ponder this question with curiosity and see what it turns up for you.

So take a relaxed breath and ask yourself the “ultimate question”

“Before I die I want to….

Complete it anyway you like. I quite going for things in 10’s. So here are my 10 things I want to do before I die:

–          Paint furiously and get some sort of fine art qualification

–          Spend a night in a prison cell

–          Walk the Inca Trail (and find a way to get to Peru without flying!)

–          Appear on TV

–          Sleep outside under the stars on a clear, warm night!

–          Spend a whole week in bed, by choice

–          See my girls grow up and get oldJ (does that count?)

–          “Do” Glastonbury or another big festival

–          Get a tattoo…just a small one mind you and under anesthetic,  as I don’t do pain!

–          Learn to snowboard while my  knees are still willingJ

What’s good about the luxury of making a long list is you get to really think of lots of ideas but often find that its only 2 or 3 of them that are really important…I will leave you to guess which of mine are most important.

Have fun making your own list.

(And don’t leave it until you are pushed – take some small steps now?)

Happy New Year!

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