The Importance of The Dash
What is the dash?
Epitaphs usually have at least three items on them: the date that a person was born, the date that a person passed from this life, and a small dash connecting those two dates. One quick look at an epitaph and what a person will often times do is calculate the math. Perhaps, it is instinct to try to figure out how long another person lived, and to make assumptions about the quality of their life based on that information.
However, a most overlooked detail of the epitaph is the dash.
What does your dash say about you?
The dash represents the life actually lived. It represents the hopes and dreams, the love, the tears, the laughter. It also represents the disappointments, the despair, those times when the individual was absolutely shaken to his core, those times when the individual experienced the most glorious moments of his life. The dash represents that which is real and lasting. It represents legacy. And, in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle, the dash represents how the individual’s life was intertwined with, and made an impact on, so many other people’s lives, as well.
Whether you are conscious of it or not, your dash is being written right now – even as you read this article.
Building your Legacy
Will your children and grandchildren inherit a torch that is burning with the light of hope or one that has been dimmed by dysfunction? When you transition from this life, do you want to be surrounded by people who respect you because of the wealth that you amassed, the power and influence that you wielded like a two-edged sword, and the elite status that you achieved in your community? Or, do you want to be surrounded by people who saw your heart, who knew you, and who absolutely loved and respected you for who you were? Do you want to be missed and adored?
Do you want to leave behind a widow who has dollar signs in her eyes, multiple scorned ex-wives, and children who only keep the lines of communication open with you because they wish to be included in the will? Or would you rather be survived by a network of family members, friends, and loved ones who may have had complicated relationships with you, but who absolutely loved you for who you were? Wouldn’t it be lovely, at such a beautiful time as your crossing over, to be surrounded by individuals who love you, respect you, and who will miss you from the bottom of their hearts?
How are you going to be remembered?
Don’t wait until it is too late to address dysfunction. Live your life the way you want to be remembered. Let people speak well of you and let them mean it. Let people talk about you, your heart, your values, your integrity, your sense of humor, your genius, your dedication…Allow people to see you – the real you. Engage with your family and loved ones in truth and integrity. Allow them to fall in love with the man you are at your core.
And maybe even more important than the manner in which you are remembered is the manner in which you actually live the life that has been given to you. What do you accomplish? What do you contribute to the world around you? The life that you live is more important than the height of the building that your name is posthumously placed on the side of.
Let your legacy be real. Let it be true. When it is your time to leave this life, make sure you have no regrets.
Live your life. Leave your mark. Make sure that your dash counts!