A Bystander on the Observation Deck of Life

Observing life is one of my favorite pastimes.  I like to people watch, bird watch, and watch time unfold.

Does that make me a bystander to life instead of a participant?

Sometimes, I think it does.

I admit that I live vicariously through those around me.

For instance, today I stalked out about a half hours worth of photographs on Jesse’s Facebook wall. She and my nephew and their son went on a marvelous trip. They took trains, automobiles, busses, and even boats on this vacation. They played in the urban playground of Chicago, and swam in the waters of Lake Michigan.  For half an hour, I was with them on a mini vacation.

Last week, on the Fourth of July, Larry was playing on the General Jackson, Alli was out with friends, and I went over and cooked out with my brother and Dad for a tiny celebration with Mom and my sister-in-law. It was fun and I love being with my family, but I missed the fireworks. They were banned in Nashville this year due to the drought. But Larry had a front row seat to the huge annual public display of fireworks at Riverfront Park. He took and shared photos from the bow of the boat on the Cumberland River.  I feel like I was there.

July 4, 2012, from the General Jackson on the Cumberland River by Larry

In June, Alli attended The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee for the second time in her life.

I don’t think I would enjoy the dirt, heat, lack of a daily shower and the close tent living. However, I think I would like the communal feel and being surrounded by music and the energy of youth.  Where else can you see The Beach Boys, Bon Iver and Phish on the same lineup?

I keep threatening to attend Bonnaroo one year. For now though, I enjoy the experience through Alli’s stories and photographs.

Yes, those are flowers in the urinal in the port-a-potty

The photo’s that truly intrigued me were of this long wall which is actually a giant chalkboard.

 It reads;

Before I die I want to….

The Bonnarooians add their words to this bucket list of sorts.

This kind of outpouring of humankind moves me. Some entries were nasty, some were humorous, and some shallow, but most seemed heartfelt and almost painfully longed for.

Before I die I want to:

Have a baby

Love and be loved

Find truth

Let love in

Be truly happy

Talk to a girl

Know I lived


Be remembered for something great

 Some were more general, dreams of things to accomplish.

Before I die I want to:


Get a PhD

Live in Fiji

Drive Route 66

Make music my career


Live on a farm

Perform a heart transplant

Own a llama

Meet Morgan Freeman

Ride a giraffe


Some were downright funny.

Before I die I want to:

Be a Disney Princess

Fist fight Kim Stover

Poor Kim Stover.

I look at these photos of the wall and I wonder who wrote which entry. How old are they? What is their story?

In truth, many of these entries are ageless. Who doesn’t seek truth? Who hasn’t wished to be truly happy? We all want to love and be loved. Just the fact that these attendees were able to put their feelings in words is a wonderful thing.

While I live my life as a bystander, I am indeed still a participant.

Sharing experiences and love is what it’s all about. So, listen to other’s stories. Go ahead, stalk out those Facebook photos. Observe life around you. Sniff flowers. Read good books, (and walls). Watch good movies.

But don’t forget to share. It is our obligation as participants in life.

-Libby Lu




16 thoughts on “A Bystander on the Observation Deck of Life

      • i’ve got a friend here in the hood who we (well jim really, i supervised) made a big ole chalk board for on her 50th b’day…she wanted it for her party and it’s still propped up against the wall in her bathroom for all to enjoy…she’s 52 now!….and folks still sign in…maybe we all need a wall! great post libby lu

  1. I love hearing about a fellow stalker, living your life and sharing others experiences is like a good book many adventures without the travel. See you soon! Jody

  2. People watching and enjoying their experiences is a lot of fun! The wall is a great idea and I’m so glad you shared some of the writings with us. People seem to love the freedom to write their deepest/darkest when given anonymity. Have you ever seen Post Secrets? Its amazing what people share. Loved this post. Thanks.

  3. Really nice. The older I get the more I want to participate. I watched a movie yesterday about taking a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I really want to do it now.

  4. I am now trying to decide which wall gets painted. I leave for the Woody Guthrie Festival on Wednesday. I do retire to a hotel with indoor plumbing and air conditioning at night, but the hot, dirty and sweaty is certainly part of the day. However, this year, I just might have to spruce up a urinal or two. 🙂

    • bahahahaha Yes, I think you should spruce up a urinal or two. Color coordinate, though please. Have fun at the festival. Got to meet Arlo many years ago. Still have his beer bottle I borrowed from his dressing room. shhhhhhh. Seriously, I’m thinking black board paint could save the world.

      Have a fun week.

      Oh, and thanks, always for reading.

      • I just might have to tell Arlo about that! 🙂 There is only one hotel in Okemah, and it is very small (I have to stay 16 miles away). One year my friends and I were tasked with “saving a spot” for Arlo’s tour bus in the very small parking lot.

        • Btw, we have a friend whose son is named Arlo!

          Funny story…saving a spot.

          I’ll have to find my photos from that meeting. I think I had a Dorothy Hamil hairdo.

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