I was doing some digital cleaning of my files when I came across the rough draft of an old blog post. Due to job changes, most of my original posts are lost or in rough draft form. This post was not in the usual folder I keep for my writing so I was surprised to find it. It was written December, 1, 2010. I have made some small edits, but decided to post it as is. I hope you enjoy, “The Dash”.
Yesterday my wife and I attended the funeral of a family member on my wife’s side. We also went to the burial site ceremony. As the preacher talked, I could not help but to gaze at the headstone by my feet. The person was born in 1905 and died in 1988. Eighty-three years of life. Now; two dates and the dash between (Yes, I know the poem “The Dash”). I walked around after the services to look at other headstones. Some were so weatherworn that I couldn’t read the names, others had rings interconnected with wedding dates, and newer headstones had no death date. Waiting for the occupant to die so that the death equation could be filled in: Birth – Dash – Death.
It has been a hard 2010 for me. I have had friends move away, coaching positions removed from me, a handful of students who simply do not care but thought it was my fault for their educational experience.
I have had some great moments in 2010. Coaching a junior high girls basketball team that is simply talented. Receiving awards and opportunities to speak or present at conferences. Taking seven athletes to state track. Getting the opportunity to build a home. The continuing experience called Fatherhood.
2010 will be remembered on my headstone as a dash.
A dash. That’s it.
Life will go on without me when I complete my own death equation. Steve Jobs discusses this in his Stanford Speech: “…almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Pearl Jam also expresses this idea in a simple line from their song “I am Mine”
I know I was born and I know that I’ll die
The in between is mine
But do we?
Have I synthesized this information (reading strategy, I know. I am an English teacher)? Have I spent too much time in a bad mood? Have I spent too much time waiting for tomorrow to be better? Am I where I am needed and wanted?
I have been shown this year, in different ways, that life goes on without me. At the funeral service, the message was centered on the idea that our lives are our sermon to the world. My life, my sermon, will be a dash on a headstone, but I hope it is felt in the hearts of my family and friends.