“It seems to me that in the orbit of our world you are the North Pole, I the South–so much in balance, in agreement–and yet… the whole world lies between.”
– Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again
Wolfe uses known entities to describe two opposing worldviews, but more importantly, he emphasizes the great division between these two opposites. If we applied this idea to our lives, then we might conclude there is an open space between our entry to this world and our exit. I like to call that space our dash.
While attending a funeral, the preacher mentioned the date the person was born and the date deceased. Between those two dates was a dash, and that dash represented the life of the dead. All his hopes, dreams, accomplishments, fears, love, and happiness summed up in that dash. For some, that dash is short, long, very long, jagged, smooth, bandy, thick, or thin. Have you thought about your dash lately?
Linda Ellis (1996) wrote a poem about a Dash. Her experience was similar to mine and related to many who read this blog. She suggested in the poem what matters most is how someday our dash would reflect our lives. During this time of year, we reflect on Serena, our daughter, and her short dash. But we also celebrate the tremendous contributions she made to many during her brief stay, from raising money to saving dolphins, to preserving trees in a rainforest, to babysitting a dog while a neighbor slept. She left a legacy of accomplishments and literary works unmatched by no other young person. She lived her dash. Are you?
Stan Brooks, PhD