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(-) The Dash

Updated on February 14, 2014

The Dash

I recently heard the story of the Dash. It may be worth considering if you are looking for a more fulfilling life.

There are three things that are listed on a tomb stone. One is the name of the deceased; two is date of birth, and then date of death. If you have ever looked at a tomb stone, you know that there is a dash between the dates signifying the years between birth and death. What defines a person is the “dash.” How did we live those lives? Did we do all that we could do? What are the things that we think held us back or are holding us back?

Circumstances Beyond Our Control

We are not always in control of that dash. Where we are born, when we live, and various circumstances, control how we start life. If we are born into poverty does that define the person we are? Can we control anything that happens to us? Circumstances should not control where we go in life. There are those who start out with great promise and potential and end up with little to show for their time on this earth. Did they play it safe? Did they work hard at their jobs? Is there anything that would have made a difference?

For example, some of the lost boys walked for miles across Africa to find a new beginning. Some of these men have accomplished a great deal, and yet others from the same group have had unforeseen problems and are yet to achieve their goals. We have heard the stories of people that have fled their countries only to end up losing their lives to senseless violence in the country they were fleeing to. Is the grass always greener on the other side? If they had decided to stay, would their life had made more of a difference? How do we know what road to take?

Where do you fit into this picture? Do you have a goal? Do you work at it every day? Have you gotten close to your goals only to be pushed back a step or two because of uncontrollable circumstances?

What have you done to change this? Goals can be changed and life can be reinvented. Does that mean that all we have to do if things go wrong is to change our direction?

Is success in your career what you wanted and accomplished? How will other remember us? We all want to be successful in life. Is that a selfish goal? No, that is not a selfish goal. What about the time we are away from work? Do we work hard on caring for others? Are there selfless acts that make the best of what we are in our interpersonal relationships? Should we strive for a balance?

When we are dead will people we have worked with come and talk about what a great worker we were, or will they talk about how we made the world around us better? Will we leave our neighborhood or our friend’s lives better for having known us? It is for all of us to decide what we will do for the dash.

A kind word is often difficult in our stressful world, but our dash may be as simple as that.

We can:

  • Say a kind word

  • Think about the day that a cashier might have had. Did someone just say something unpleasant to them? Did their boss just tell them that their hours would be cut back?

  • Can we give one hour a week that will help a child read better, a single parent not feel so alone and stressed?

The list can go on and on. Each person has to decide for themselves what they can do? It may be as simple as a kind word, but it might make all the difference in the world to someone having a hard day, month, or year. This year might be the year to get out of your comfort zone. Helping others can be difficult. We don’t want our thoughtfulness to be rejected, or to have others think we are being foolish. You are the only person responsible for the dash in your life. Make your dash count. The dash might end up being a surprise, if only we can step outside ourselves and see others through fresh eyes.

What Will You Do To Make This World A Better Place?

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