Wednesday, March 9, 2011

before i die...

I love this piece. And I love that it's in New Orleans.

This artist (Candy Chang) stenciled the side of an abandoned building in her neighborhood and hung baskets of chalk there so people could fill in the blank, a brilliant idea in a perfect city for it--New Orleans is a place of constant re-invention of the self. But it is also a poignant reminder that that Self is finite.

I missed Fat Tuesday this year--or at least missed celebrating it properly (we were in Beaufort, S.C. yesterday, checking out the antebellum houses; not exactly Bourbon Street). But seeing this piece again reminds me that there is a plaintive, honest, straightforward truth to what on the surface might seem to be a hedonistic lifestyle in places like N.O.: you are going to die. Your days will not continue and continue, offering you a forever of 'Someday, I will...'

No. You will be gone and the things you only dreamed of doing but never actually did will disappear along with your memories and all the other stuff in your head. Gone.

I remember one of most weirdly sad things about being in my Mom's house after she died unexpectedly a few years back was her little notes to herself, her lists of things to do that will go forever undone: Wednesday, yoga class; go to the post office; grocery lists, things like that. And among those were mentions of an impending Christmas visit I was going to take there (she died in November, 2006). Of course, I did go; she just wasn't there anymore.

You are but a slight warmth to a brief, gentle breeze: ethereal and slight, a gossamer spiderweb that will be devoured in an instant by time, swallowed by the Great Nothing that is the universe. While you are alive, you might think this world is a place you fully occupy, someplace in which you spread out and consume with your gravity, a place that couldn't exist without you in it.

Guess again, Sunshine.

At any rate, the challenge is to be tactile, alive and in the moment without being full-on Hedonism Bot, but also to be aware and appreciative of how others are affected by us and what differences we can make in small ways in people's lives.

Before I die...

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