Poem: The Dash

My sister shared this poem with me many years ago as a powerful reflection on life.  What is important about a person’s life? The numbers, the material possessions… or something more…  A reflection for a Friday afternoon.

The Dash

By Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning…to the end

He noted that first came the date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
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 this special dash
Might only last a little while

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent YOUR dash?

Other Poems on this Blog

Poem: The Bridge Builder

This poem was shared by Warren Rustand during the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Leadership Academy 2016 course held in Washington last year.  It was part of his description of why he spends so much time teaching.

Update January 2021: Warren Rustand has published a book and I would recommend to any person who wishes to lead a life of intention, integrity and impact to read his words. 

Warren Rustand has helped many successful leaders to raise their standards for themselves and lead lives of impact.  Warren has 3 elements that he helps people clarify: Clarity of Vision, Certainty of Action, and Values.  His impact on leaders from all around the world is powerful, and I am excited to see him share his wisdom in a book for the first time.

I loved the sentiment expressed by Warren, and captured in this poem:

The Bridge Builder

Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

What are you doing the rest of your life?

Here’s Warren speaking at a recent conference:

Are you living your life on cruise control?  Warren suggests this is a poor response to life.  Warren suggests that easing through life is not the right path.  We want to be “spent by the battle of life”.

Life might be more enriched by doing it a bit differently.

Here’s a blog post summary of a seminar by Warren from Marisa Levin (an EO member): http://successfulculture.com/culture-of-greatness/