I saw this photo on Twitter, posted by Stephen Fry. He saw this board on a towpath between Regent’s Park and Lisson Grove in London, and took a photo of it. That was two-and-a-half years ago, and, having rediscovered the photo, he posted it on Twitter.
The board is entitled “Before I die…” and bears several lines, each beginning with “Before I die I want to” and encourages people to fill in the blanks with what they would like to do before they die. Reading through the responses, I have to say that I agree with Stephen Fry that it is somehow rather touching; in fact, some of the responses are heartbreaking.
Take for example: “Before I die I want to…get over losing Dad”. Whoever wrote that, I want to find them and hug them and tell them that we never get over losing the ones we love. We simply learn to manage the pain until we are strong enough to put one foot in front of the other once more.
There are the funny responses too, such as “Before I die I want to…go to Hogwarts” or “Before I die I want to…learn how to write an essay” and “Before I die I want to…be on this list”.
Moreover, however, these responses of a random selection of society are about love. There is “Before I die I want to…get married”, “Before I die I want to…marry Babou”, “Before I die I want to…marry Gabita”, “Before I die I want to…love and be wise” and “Before I die I want to…make a difference”.
To my mind, there is a reason why the majority of the responses are about love. Love is life and life is love. Reading through them, I was reminded of the words of the actress Emanuelle Riva. “Love is the essence of life; love touches all of our work. Love never leaves us. It clings to us, and we cling to it.”