The Dash

Car crash away

Today we hear a lot about Black Lives Matter, or White Lives Matter, or Police or Children’s lives matter. They do matter – all lives matter. Another thing that also matters is TIME. It is such a valuable commodity. Time is so valuable and we usually do not realize it until something happens to make us acutely aware of the fact. Time can slip through your fingers like hot butter…and just like that, it is gone. It can never be reclaimed.

American Author Henry Van Dyke said, “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.”

Sometime we realize its value when we begin to age, or see those we love and care for aging. Often that realization is triggered by the death of someone we know. If only we were taught early on to treat time like money in the bank or as an investment, we would be more likely to use it wisely.

Because of life experiences most of us possess an awareness that in the twinkling of an eye, everything can be going along just fine and then something happens. That something does not even have to be something BIG – just something that forever alters our world, and we are never the same.

I have had more than one of those moments. Like Alice said in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

A car wreck, a change of job, a death of a parent or a friend, a broken relationship, a move, a marriage, a new baby, a promotion, all things good and bad change us. Life is such a training ground and as we age and that chronological number rises from decade to decade we begin to look at time differently.

When we are young we have no real concept of time and we don’t give the end of our life a second thought. We think those who are around us will live forever, perhaps not consciously, but we definitely do not dwell on their lives coming to an end. It is not on our radar, but when we lose a parent or grandparent, we begin to awaken to the fact that our time is limited. As we begin hearing about the death of people we went to school with, friends or people we work, we wake up a little more. With each passing of those we know or know of, our eyes are soon wide open to whatever time we have left.

The Holy Bible says that “no man knows the hour,” but we do know that scientific data relating to family history can give us some estimation of our longevity, barring a catastrophe.

Once realized, we have a choice either to fear death and be paralyzed from doing the things that contribute to life, or make every moment count.

When I was doing the Believe radio show, listeners joined me on a cruise on Princess Lines. It was a West Coast cruise and I did a workshop for the group which was preceded with the reading of a poem I had read in a book I had read by Linda Ellis called, The Dash. The crux of the poem was that the year you were born and the year you die is not as important as what you do in between those dates – that dash. I had people think about their lives and where they were with regard to how they had lived their dash thus far.

I did a guided meditation and had them visualize their own funeral – seeing people walk by their casket or urn, and to think about what those people might be thinking about them. I had them see different people going to the podium in the church or wherever their funeral or memorial would be held, and imagine what those people would say about them and what the feeling of the room was like. Then I had them come back to present time and sit with those thoughts for a few moments.

Then I passed out pen and paper and had them write the obituary they hope would be in the paper about them – not what they thought people would say, but how they wanted it to read upon their death. They were given an opportunity to re-write their dash. The hope I had for this exercise was to give each person the opportunity to examine their lives and make any changes they would like to make in the time they had left.

Most of us want our lives to count for something. Even if we have not lived as we wished, with realization, as long as we are breathing, we can change. Christian writer Barbara Johnston said, “If you find yourself going in the wrong direction, God allows U Turns.”

The famous motivational speaker Earl Nightingale said, “Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”

As this point in my life, WHAT I BELIEVE is that the Good Lord has given us so many breaths or heartbeats. When we reach that number, our time is done.

In the last three years I have lost my mother, my sister, my father and a special pet. I am awake and I know that time — every second matters. I want to use it ALL and not waste a second of it. Everyday I am re-writing my dash.