Living your dash

The DashI learnt about ‘living your dash’ from Robby Robin’s Journey. ‘The dash’ is the one that goes between your dates of birth and death. Mine, for instance, is in “1960-” (because I’m not dead yet). Jane Fritz says:

This expression was popularized by Linda Ellis’s poem
The Dash; it provides a powerful metaphor for your life and helps us think about how our own dashes might be evaluated.

I went googling for the poem. It wasn’t hard to find it. However, reproducing it is subject to licence… which I applied for and was kindly granted. So 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 © 2020 Southwestern Inspire Kindness, Inc.,

About peNdantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
This entry was posted in art, Core thought and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Living your dash

  1. Oh, that’s a lovely poem by Linda. How true it is; we end up being just a dash!

    Liked by 2 people

    • pendantry says:

      I think that the trick — one I’m not sure I’ve yet learned — is to ensure that it’s a quality dash :)


      • I want to republish your post totally. So I have also asked Linda for permission to share her work in Learning from Dogs. There’s something uniquely important about The Dash! Fingers crossed!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Colin, how did you reach out to Linda? Because I have not yet heard back from her. I used the Contact page on her website.


          • pendantry says:

            I’ve just checked their site: it looks like they’ve changed their rules since I applied for a licence to republish it (which was some time ago). The site now says:

            The Poem may be printed within the body of a news publication, news article or obituary without written permission so long as the following accreditation is also included : by Linda Ellis, Copyright © 2020,


  2. Just read your last comment. That’s terrific! So may I have your permission to republish this blog post?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a beautiful piece. Definitely worth a pause…

    Liked by 2 people

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  5. This is one of my favourite poems. It was read at my Grandmother’s funeral and embodied her entirely, she never stood still and was always kind. It fits in with my own thoughts about getting to the end of life without regrets or as few as possible. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

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  22. Been here before but now the two dash links do not work (‘website unavailable). Robbin’s link is ok.

    Liked by 1 person

    • peNdantry says:

      Gah. This Internet thing is built on really shaky foundations! I’m seeing probably the same thing you are at

      Website Unavailable
      The website you are trying to reach is unavailable due to security measures in place which restrict unauthorized access.

      It gets worse: there’s little point my fixing this post, as Paul Handover republished it in its entirety – including the same, currently duff – links on Learning From Dogs…

      Life is too short!

      I’ve done the next best thing, which is to send an email to the folks at ‘Inspire Kindness‘ (who originally granted me permission to reproduce this poem) alerting them to the problem. With a bit of luck and a following wind, maybe they’ll fix it…

      Thanks for the heads-up, fellow 💥 ?Random Raider! 💥

      Liked by 1 person

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