So this will be an easy (and short one) for the questions thing. Brian Cormick Carr over on YouTube introduced the hashtag #MyBestAdvice on his channel recently, where he shared what the best advice was that he has ever gotten in life, and where from, and then asked others to do the same.
For me, this was advice given to me by Z. Growing up, I spent a great deal of time at her house because she was 1) my parent’s “Pagan Parenting” coach of a sort, 2) she kind of ended up functioning as my sister and I’s “godparent”, and 3) she did a LOT of babysitting of L and myself.
So, with all those factors in place, it’s not really much of a surprise that this advice comes from her. I think I was around twelve? Maybe a little older. Perhaps she was worried about how I would turn out, or perhaps it was just another guiding step on teaching us values. Whatever the reason, her advice was to read a poem named “The Dash” by Linda Ellis.
Here it is…
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 of 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 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 still can be rearranged.
To 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 that 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 lived your dash?
By Linda Ellis, Copyright © Inspire Kindness, 1996, thedashpoem.com
This poem changed my life in a very literal way. It made me conscious of my effect upon others and the world at large in a way that nothing previously ever had and created a “community perspective” that reached way beyond just my immediate family and friends.
This poem is the best advice that I’ve ever received, and holds a framed place above my altar in the bedroom where I stand to do my devotional each day. A daily reminder to always look beyond myself and be mindful of the influence I have upon others and the world around me.