In my workshops discussing making life dreams come true, I show a gravestone and refer to the dash that comes between the date of birth and date of death.
Whether it is the grave stone of a child that lived a mere few months or of a person who lived a full life and passed of old age, there is only just a dash there to mark their time on earth.
How we fill that dash while we are alive gives meaning to our life.
Here’s a poem describing the same idea. I am not sure of the source, but I know the writer’s name.
The Dash Poem
by Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end
He noted that first came her date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?
Think about it. But, don’t stop with thinking.
What is there that you can do today to fill that dash with more meaning?