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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Define Your Dash

My grandfather used to say “Remember your dash and make the most of it!”

My grandfather was - simply put – was a hard worker, and owned a business that covered various lines of work, all of which were based off of his belief that you will always make money doing what people don’t want to do.
One of those lines of work was digging and covering graves, yes gruesome I know, but someone has to do the dirty work (no pun intended) when our loved ones are laid to rest and let’s face it…you will never run out of business. Since I worked with him every summer in my early youth, I spent my fair share of time in or around graveyards. Amazingly, even in the most solemn of places, my grandfather was able to drive home a spike of encouraging wisdom that still speaks to me to this day.

From time to time, I would take a moment and look some of the tombstones that marked the final resting places of the residents at the cemetery where we were working.
One particular time, as I gazed at a headstone, my grandfather asked me “do you know the most important character on that tombstone is?” I gave a few guesses to the best of my level of rationale and while the name and epitaphs were important, he focused my attention to the character that most of us tend to completely ignore…the dash.

You see, on most all tombstones there is a date of birth and a date of death, he explained, and we all have obviously experienced our date of birth, but the great mystery is our date with death.
He pointed out that what is most important in our lives are the memories we build, time that we share and legacy that we leave with people we have touched - all represented by that little dash in between those dates. Even at a young age, it hit me…we never buried cars or houses, educational degrees or trophies, never laid millions of dollars or a mirror to rest with the deceased, just their empty shell and the last outfit they will ever wear. As I began to drink in this reality, I looked at the people who came to view the grave sites of their loved ones differently. They weren’t coming to merely look at a piece of granite stone, but they came to pay respect to memories represented by that dash.

What is the significance of your dash to this point in your life?
The mere fact that you are reading this entry means that you still have an opportunity to ensure that your dash has an everlasting impact on the world around you. We have to remember that life is not about what you gain, but who you touch and what you do with your dash has a major affect on the legacy that your children inherit, that your friends remember and that you account for when you meet God. How fortunate was I that my grandfather used a portion of his dash to invest wisdom in my life that I can now share with you. No one knows when that final date will come, so never use tomorrow as an excuse to waste today. My prayer is that you use your dash to live, love and laugh like there is no tomorrow…everyday. Be Blessed.

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