Monday, 16 January 2012

Crafting The Dash

This past few days, I have mostly been distracted from writing ... thinking about my 'dash' ...

In her 'Dash Poem' Linda Ellis (follow this to read the full version - offers reassurance to grieving family and friends which places them and their memories of a deceased loved one at the heart of what is important to life. The poem offers a way to see beyond the blinding fog of grief to reflect on the life that has been lived. The reader is urged to look within the dates that are the markings of a life (the birth and death dates inscribed on a tomb stone) into the detail of the dash that separates them.

'For that dash represents all the time

That she spent alive on earth

And now only those who love her

Know what that little line is worth

I came across this listening to Chris Evans' breakfast show, it had featured in the previous day's Thought For The Day by the Reverand Ruth. Inspiring stuff, who'da thought?! (ok I admit, I was a dedicated TOG - a young one, I might add).

Apart from its potential to offer solace in grief, the poem got me reflecting on the dash I have thus far constructed and how I might craft what ever remains.

Small thing a dash - hope I haven't left it too late?!!!

The brevity of the dash symbolises of the brevity of our existence where, in the grand scheme of things, we amount to little more than a mark on a stone. Reasonable to surmise then that it is important to craft the dash (or what's left of it) well. Resisting my default reaction to spin into oh-it's-too-late, I decided to go with the optimistic starting point of, I'm quite probably (with less wine, fags, chocolate and more exercise) about half way through and therefore still able to make a difference.

'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.

At the end of it all, we leave a whisper in the hearts of our family and friends and, if we are really lucky we have managed to reach out to a wider audience. This brought to mind a picture I had found to use for some training I delivered (on using questions in the classroom to maximise students learning - in cases you're wondering).

I LOVE this picture, it illustrates how the neurons in the brain fire together (an idea explored by Donald Ebb) and supports the theory that what we learn (and experience) and how that makes us feel, physically alters our brain and therefore who we are.

Thus, being a good, reliable family member, a good friend and colleague, even a good customer in the Supermarket (I need to work harder at this) we can have a positive impact in the minds of others. As for my writing, I reason, if I can write something that makes somebody feel positive then I will be able to claim success. In any case, the fact that my writing makes ME feel positive (mostly) makes me better able to be a more positive person - which can only be a good starting point in my interactions with those around me (even those in the Supermarket).

Enjoy your dash!

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  1. I have to say, I really struggle with the supermarket thing... probably because I'm always in a hurry so not really up for small talk.

    Maybe we should all

    "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
    [My quotes are less literary than yours.]

  2. I LOVE your quotes!!! and the idea of 'slowing down' is most definitely one I intend to pursue!

  3. Really enjoyed the poem, and yes, it does (or should) make us reflect on how we live and what we'll leave behind. I don't want to just be a name on a tombstone, I want to leave something behind. There are all sorts of things I want to achieve and leave behind, but most of all, I want memories to be handed down to be passed on. I suppose that's one reason why I like writing so much!
    I really want my children to know me and share my 'dash' at the end is more rather than less!
    If my legacy extends further than my family then great, but if it's just my family who are able to continue 'sharing' me once I'm gone, then I've done well!
    Great post!

    1. Thank you for sharing your ideas Lisa, I'm with you - at the end of the day it's all about crafting memories for our loved ones to cherish (and have fun with too)..