The Dash That Connects Our Dots

This was first posted on December 5, 2015. In light of the current state of our world, it seems that the dash that connects our dots is more important than ever. Time to connect our dots in ways that heal, restore, touch the world for the good of all. Because we are all in this together. 

We have a tradition at our church.  After the sermon, called a Reflection by our community (which I think is a totally better name for it), those of us in the pews have a chance to give our two-cents worth, which often is as valuable as the message itself.  Recently there was a reflection about the importance of a hyphen, that punctuation mark defined as “the sign that connects two words”.  We were challenged to think about the connection and meaning conveyed in that small little mark. Afterwards as a few of us reflected on the Reflection, one person shared that the first thing he thought about was a childhood memory of visiting a nearby cemetery.  He would wander through the headstones, most of which gave a birth year, followed by the year of death, connected by not a hyphen, but a dash.  To be more specific, it is the En dash, as opposed to the Em dash, that is used to indicate spans or differentiation. (To read more about the dash — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dash) That dash served to represent all the years between the beginning and end of a life.  He commented that those two dates on the headstones were in many ways the least significant, as all of the living of the person buried there was to be found in that tiny dash. Made up of every step, every thought, every word, every pain, every relationship, every breath, every…. everything of that person’s life, the beginning and the ending are but dots on either side of the lifeline that connects the first breath to the last.  An entire life is contained in that dash. 

It’s all about the dash.

Over the years, I’ve reviewed more than my share of resumes. Potential candidates for hire or promotion list their experience, starting with the most recent, and identified with the starting and end dates of that position.  A long expanse of time does not automatically equate to depth of experience or expertise. What did you learn?  What did you contribute? How have you grown? Tell me about the dash.  Nor does a short experience suggest a lack of lasting impact.  During his short time in office, prior to his assassination, John F. Kennedy’s presidency was marked by history making events and issues including the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the establishment of the Peace Corps and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Length of experience always counts for something.  That something is contained in the dash.  

 It’s all about the dash.

In the biblical story of creation contained between Genesis verse 1, which was the beginning of it all, and verse 31, when God saw that it was good, a lot happened in the time spanned between the those two verses.  From an endless void to a world teeming with life, whether you believe that took seven days or billions of years, that heavenly dash contains a hell of a lot.  The story is found in the dash. 

It’s all about the dash.

In the past three years we have planned as many weddings for our daughters.  The first two were beautiful, the one still in the planning stages will be so as well.  A wedding is an important event, and marks a deep commitment being made between two people.  The wedding is only the beginning.  The marriage is what happens from the moment vows are made to all of the rest of the moments when the vows are kept. Or not. The quality of the life built together by two people isn’t found in an evening of ritual and celebration, no matter how well planned, extravagant or beautiful.  A marriage is found in the dash.

It’s all about the dash.

Time is a gift.  One of our most valuable resources, it can be sliced and diced in so many ways.  Every day is a new choice, a multitude of choices about what will happen in the moments in front of us. Our life is found in our dash, as It is what connects our dots that tell the story of who we are, what we do and how we do it.  

I was born October 12, 1953.  So far, my dash, which measures about 1/16 of an inch in my favorite font, American Typewriter, contains 63 years, 3 months and 24 days.

Molly Davis

1953 - 

It’s all about the dash. 

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