What do you want to do before you die?

It’s an intriguing question.

But even more intriguing is where the question came from. Read the following lines of poetry and then follow the story below:


But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,

But often, in the din of strife,

There rises an unspeakable desire

After the knowledge of our buried life;

A thirst to spend our fire and restless force

In tracking out our true, original course;

A longing to inquire

Into the mystery of this heart which beats

So wild, so deep in us–to know

Whence our lives come and where they go.

This is part of a poem by the 19th century poet, Matthew Arnold, entitled “The Unspeakable Desire.” I ran across this gem in my research on the MTV show The Buried Life, a title taken from this same poem. In the show four young men become sick of the life they are living and decide to do something radically different. They come up with 100 things they want to do before they die. And then they hit the road. Every time the guys succeed in doing one, they try to help others do something on their list.

So I did something like that in my class on Sunday. I asked the entire class, “What do you want to do before you die?” What came out were adventure longings to go and see certain places and relational longings to be close to certain people. And with that came the awkwardness of sharing something so personal and the fear of being criticized. We then talked about those feelings as a class.

For when we speak about these things, we are getting close to the unspeakable desire residing in all of us. As the poet said, so much of our life seems buried. Yet inside of every heart, something wild, something deep courses through us. To inquire of this may yield an understanding about where we have come from and who we are. And perhaps what we are to do before we die.

And that’s exactly what my Sunday School class is going to do over the months ahead. We are going to examine our wild and deep longings, the fire and the restless force inside each of us. We are going to pull up the unspeakable desire, and we are going to speak about it. The hope is that many will begin to live a resurrected life, not a buried life. That’s what coming alive in Christ means.

Join us every Sunday at 9:15 in the Event Center at Christ Presbyterian Church!


About Coach D

I have been a teacher and a coach for many years. My real name is Bill Delvaux, but my students call me Coach D, hence the user name. This blog is about the journey into the unknown I am walking and the landmarks I am navigating along the way. The destination: becoming who I really am as a man. I invite you to join me by reading along every Monday and Thursday.
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2 Responses to What do you want to do before you die?

  1. Jeremiah Carter says:

    Amen to that Mr. Delvaux – your ministry now, focusing on young men and fathers (crucial), as well as where I am in life now only impresses upon me more the desire to help young men at a crossroads. There are many in life. Some more important of with more lasting affects than others. But all with affects. What would it be like if we loved as men the way God has called us to love as men? Men would help each other. No one would be lost or left alone because it can’t work that way.

    • Coach D says:

      Your comments are insightful and also have behind them a longing, a desire for things to change, a dream for things to be different. That’s how revolutions start. They start with a dream and a gut passion. What would it be like if men truly loved each other as God calls us to? I think I may know the answer. It would be heaven.

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