Sunday, July 4, 2010

Iv'e Been Thinking - Living Between The Dash

Living Life Between The Dash

Several years ago, I was visiting my parent’s grave site on a cold and wintry afternoon in late February. As you can imagine it was fraught with emotion and lacking in any sense of purpose or future. As I was wandering aimlessly around the cemetery, I was taken with the numerous grave sites with headstones embellished with words which in most cases had been kept to twenty six or less, in order to fit on the stone. I was quite tearful as my parent’s stone hadn't been unveiled as yet and we were all in a quandary as to how we could limit a person’s life to twenty six words or less. It struck me as I pondered the headstones, how almost all of them had a dash entered between the dates of “Born” and “Died”.

Joseph Thomas January 14Th 1924 – February 14Th 2008.

That “dash” represented the sum total of the person’s existence. Just one simple hyphen, a mere nudge of a chisel and all their dreams, hopes, celebrations of joy along with their fears and anxiety, recorded in stone. Their lives (as with ours), were expressed in a finite expression of living life between the "dash".

Whilst this symbol of a life lived, is crass in its attempt to summarize one’s life, it is a stark reminder of the importance of (at the least), living life full and dying spent. As the old saying goes “many die with the music still in them”. Life was never intended to be lived cautiously or reserved. It was meant to be lived to the full. Live life full, but die spent.

Spent is a term often associated with wild salmon, whose sole purpose in life is to fulfill their lives journey and return to their birth place, to give life to future generations. Burned into their DNA is their reason for existence. No holding back for finer weather or better options.
By journeys end, each salmon lays beaten up and scarred by the ravages of the river and obstacles within its path, but never the less, its in-built purpose spurred it on to complete the course. Its life purpose was both the fuel and the target.

Is there any finer cause for mankind, than navigating ones life through the challenges of living, in the pursuit of advancing the cause of another?
This same unselfish motive should be ours by intent. This is living life between the "dash".

“Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die; and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life. Both life and death are parts of the same Great Adventure”. -Theodore Roosevelt

I like yourself, have had sufficient challenges to justify rest in the still pools beside the raging rivers of life and for a time such rest is essential in re-focusing on the next stage of our journey. Ultimately, when strength and reason return, we will take our place between the dash. Not for our sakes, but for the advancement of the generation yet to experience the joy of living life to the full.

In the days ahead, I trust you will re-affirm the life you live, "between the dash."