Friday, October 5, 2007

The Dash

I first heard this poem, by a poet named Linda Ellis, when a friend of my grandmother's recited it at her funeral. I keep a copy posted above my computer at my desk. On a Friday like today has been turning out, it helps me keep perspective.

I hope it does the same for you.

The Dash
I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of his friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the second with tears,
but he said that 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.
(You could be at "dash mid-range.")

If we could just slow down enough
to considerwhat's true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel. 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 pleased with the things they have to say
about how you spent your dash?


laura b. said...

I like the thought behind this poem. This post has inspired me and I am going to put up my deskside inspiration on my blog. Thanks David!

Churlita said...

It's so true. My mom died at 43, and I'm 42 right now. All I can think is, spend it well, you never know how long it'll last.

David in DC said...

Laura, Churl:

I'm glad you like this.

It's been hanging over my desk since my grandmother's funeral, a few years ago.

Friday was a tough day and I looked at it anew. It helped me with perspective.

Sharing it seemed the right thing to do.