Monday, May 3, 2010


We had a memorial service for my grandfather this weekend, who had passed away in November. He lived in Florida, so they had a service there at the time, but he is actually being buried up here with my grandmother in the town that they spent most of their lives and raised their seven children. My grandfather was a very devoted and outspoken Christian. This sometimes put people off, but overall he left quite an amazing legacy behind him.

As we went to the grave site and looked at the dash between the dates, I was reminded again of the poem The Dash by Linda Ellis, and it got me thinking about the 'Dashboard' of our lives. First, here's the poem if you don't know it (or its always good to read again):

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

He noted that first came her date of birth
and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the “dash” between those years. (1934 -1998)

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,
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what's true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be 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's being read
with your life's actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent your “dash”?

This poem really puts things in perspective for me. I think I'm a fairly reflective person and I try to live life to its fullest (most of the time), but often I can tend to get on autopilot and all of a sudden a week or month has gone by and I have to say to myself, where did the time go? What did I really do with the time that was given to me? If I had a dashboard for my life, what would it say about how I was using my dash? How would I measure up? 

In this high tech world that we live in, we have so many gizmo's and gadgets, and it seems that we attempt to measure everything. We're a culture obsessed with analytics and metrics. From the time we're born, we're measured and weighed to see how we 'size' up. We go to school and we're tested and tested until we become geniuses at taking tests (even if we have no way of knowing how to apply that knowledge). We have IQ tests, social IQ tests, personality tests, career aptitude tests... We like to measure everything. 

We have dashboards for our cars

Dashboards for our computers

Dashboards for our blogs

But what about measuring the really important things of our lives? Can we measure the amount of love, respect, or appreciation in our lives? Can we put these things on a dashboard? If I could, what would it say about the direction I'm going in? Am I going too fast or do I need to 'slow down enough to consider what's true and real'? What's the temperature of my passion? Have I let it cool too much? Perhaps I can't put these things on a literal dashboard, but I do want to truly try to take an assessment of my life before my 'eulogy's being read'. 

I actually just looked up a few personal life tests and discovered that there are many out there such as the 'clean sweep' assessment or authentic happiness questionnaires. Perhaps I'll try a few of these just for the fun of it, and I'm sure I'll learn some interesting things about myself or they will help me to work on some things I want to change. Really though, when it comes down to it, when that time comes for me to leave this world, it won't matter if I did or didn't back up my hard drive monthly (one of the weird questions on the clean sweep assessment). There's really only one thing that I hope that people will say about my little dash of a life: 'it was filled with a whole lotta love'. :)


Lady Grey said...

this is a truly beautiful post, darlin'.

Holly Renee said...

Beautiful. I truly love your blog. I think your last sentence is exactly how I feel. I love the poem you copied here. Sorry for the loss of Grandpa. From what I do know of you, people will certainly say your life was filled with love.


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