The Dash: Part Two, surviving to live

This is Part Two of The Dash blog series. 

If you missed Part One, click here .

Conversation is encouraged for this blog series. Please feel free to share and comment your thoughts and opinions in the coming weeks as I dive more deeply into “The Dash.”  Share the blog link and use the Twitter hashtag: #thedashblogseries to invite others to join the conversation. 

If you have a question that hasn’t been listed, feel free to add it in a comment. 

If you’d rather send me an email, click here. 

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Everyone is passionate about something. 

Whether it’s sports, sleeping, pursuing a career, love, music, coffee, a person…

Everyone is passionate about something.

Throughout my life, I’ve wondered what I’m passionate about.

I’ve thought about it and written about it. I’ve prayed about it, talked about it, dreamed about it.

If everyone has a passion, what was mine?

It seems like a stupid question. If you’re passionate about something, it should be obvious to you what it is. To me, though, when it came right down to it, things that I would consider my passions all had one thing in common.

I realized that my passion is simply living.

Jesus. Living, breathing, memory-making, conversation. Joy, sadness, music, people. Coffee, school, laughter, writing, photography. The things that make up my every day.

Life. 

The thing about life is that no matter how long you have it and no matter how “fully” you’ve lived it, it never is long enough.

It’s become a social trend: How To Live Life To the Fullest. I’ve even had my share of attempts at answering the age-old question. Examples can be found here and here. With the bombardment of trying to make the best of your life and creating bucket lists of places we want to see before we die and things to do, things to experience…. we begin to feel overwhelmed with all the ways we could live life better. We begin to compare our lives to those around us. We begin to try and set goals to make ourselves better, happier, prettier so maybe, if those goals are successfully achieved, then life would be better, too.

Slowly but surely, we begin to drown in the “shoulda woulda coulda” instead of simply living.

We jokingly say “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) and we throw it around in conversation. Usually, people say it when they’re about to do something idiotic or stupid. “YOLO” has become a way of life. It’s become almost an excuse to do things that will help us “live life to the fullest.” But does it?

I think, when it all comes down to it, we’ve lost our passion for life, myself included. We take our days too seriously and we approach each situation with a critical eye, completely unaware that most of the time, we’re looking for the bad and assuming the worst. It almost has become a habit. We forget to look around us, “stopping to smell the roses” so to speak, and we rush through each day with a schedule and our minds running 1,000 miles per hour. We rush through every day, creating lists of things to do, people to see, things to experience. We rush, we rush, we rush…

We are too busy surviving to stop and simply live.

The day that I walked out of the cemetery*, I was overcome with emotion and started thinking more about this small horizontal line.

The Dash between the year of arrival and the year of passing is small. It doesn’t catch every moment you create in this life. It doesn’t even come close to summarizing the life of each individual. It simply is the length of time from when you were born to when you die. You only live once, so what volumes will your Dash speak?

The Dash may not capture every moment we have on Earth, but that doesn’t mean we should stop living.

As cliche as it sounds, each day is a gift. I don’t know when my Dash will end. I don’t know what date is going to bookend that Dash.

We can’t just live our lives to survive. We must live every day, taking in the wonders and the miracles and the trials.

Just because The Dash doesn’t capture every moment doesn’t mean that every moment shouldn’t be captured. 

* Reference to Part One of “The Dash” Series.

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Let’s talk: 

How would you describe the word “passion?” How can a passion effect you mentally/spiritually/emotionally/physically? Would you consider yourself passionate about life– how so? 

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The Dash: Part One, an intro to what is coming.

After a lot of thinking and a lot of encouragement from a few friends and family, I’ve decided to write a mini blog series, entitled “The Dash.” 

This blog post is PART ONE of “The Dash” blog series. This is the INTRODUCTION to what is coming. I am excited for this! I really want to share what is on my heart with you. I hope that you will join me and follow along during this series. 

Each Sunday, a new “chapter” will be published on the blog. Please feel free to share and comment your thoughts and opinions in the coming weeks as I dive into “The Dash.” 

 I yearn to interact with you. To get to know you. To get to talk with you. Let this be the beginning of a conversation between you and me. 

Join the conversation on Twitter, as well, using the hashtag: #thedashblogseries 

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I look out into the field. My body shakes with emotion. I close my eyes, hard, and hope that this is all a terrible nightmare. I open them, but I’m still standing here, facing this field. 

Tombstones peak between the grass blades. The cold granite conflicts with the perky green of the landscape. Something so happy like green grass does not deserve to be associated with heavy rock.

I don’t like being here. I want to leave. This is not a place where you want to be, yet here I am. I scan the field and quickly read a few of the stones’ headings.

Etched in the rock are dates of people past. The markings of when they entered earth and when they left it.

A whole life summed up in just a few numbers and letters. I find myself staring at it. These dates and letters through my eyes, eyes that threaten to spill over tears, captivate me.

What separates the two dates is a dash. A hieroglyphic of the English language. A straight, horizontal line. A mere punctuation. Zero degrees curvature without a hint of an incline or decline.

Straight.

I stare.

The line that separates the two dates is easy to miss. Easy to ignore. Easy to skip right past. The focus is on the bookends. The dates, balanced, sit on either side of the dash.

But that dash, that dash represents so much. Every minute of every day you are has to be summarized by two inches of horizontal geometry. The day you entered is the beginning of that dash and the date you left, it is the tangible end to it. That Dash is what made me stop and stare. It doesn’t seem right for it to be there, so tiny and easy to miss. It should be bigger. More evident.

A whole life is summed up in two dates. Decades of life, of breath, of oxygen inhaled, of carbon dioxide exhaled. Seconds… millions of them, the heart beating, eyes blinking, memories forming. It’s not captured. The dash represents everything. It’s heavy with meaning, yet it stays straight. No ups, no downs, no adjectives to help describe what that dash represents.

It just sits there between the numbers and letters. It makes me wonder. It makes me think. It gives me an idea.

This dash.

You skip right past it and read what’s on the outsides.

Just the date you entered, fists clenched.

And the date you left, palms surrendered.