Living Your “Dash”

In a recent doctor visit, I was reminded of how short and precious life can be. Perhaps I was just feeling a bit morbid since this was the third visit to the same hospital over the last week that had me thinking about what my existence has amounted to in my 41 years of life. While sitting in the exam room, I started to think about how I wanted to be remembered. Feeling rather down, unimportant, and quite forgettable, I started to feel sorry for myself. Oddly enough, there was a print in the doctor’s office directly across from where I waited, and it was of a poem that has since become one of the more popular inspirational poems on living a life that matters. The poem The Dash by Linda Ellis (© 1996), has been widely publicized by other writers, referenced by inspirational websites, and even used in presidential campaign speeches (You can find the poem in its entirety and other inspirational Linda Ellis writing at

The essence of the poem is this – we all have a date of birth and a date our life expires, but the most important date on the tombstone is “the dash” between the day you were born and the day you die. It is in the living we do from the time we take our first breath to the time we breathe our last that we must make matter. It is in this “dash” that we leave behind our legacy, memories made with others, and the after effects of the good we have done in this world. Everyone has a start and an end date, but the moments in between are what make life go on. What matters is not the quantity of time we spent in that dash, but rather the quality of the dash.

In the fourth installment of my book series, The Last Prophet, Uriel’s Light, the main character has been given an estimated “expiration” date, if you will. She has the rare opportunity to evaluate her “dash” and to make it matter most in the little time she has left in this world. Not all are as fortunate as she to be able to have the time and the resources to bring their dash to a state where they can be at peace when they pass on beyond this life. It was this last thought that had me thinking.

Did I simply make a living or did I live and make a life? Did I pay lip service to loved ones, or did I truly make my love known and felt by the ones I told, “I love you?” Did I rush through life wanting to grow up too fast to the point I was out of breath, or did make time to stop and see something or someone who took my breath away? Did I fill up my life too much to the point where I never truly stopped to enjoy the fruits of all I worked for, or did I choose what was most important and give it my full attention and care? This is what it means to live our own “dash” – to be alive and breathe life into all that we endeavor to pursue.

Have you taken a look at how you live your dash? Are you content with it so far? If not, there is no better time than the present to live your dash with purpose. Please comment in the space provided.

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