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Live Your Dash -- Writer's Poke #421

So much of life is wasted, but does it make sense to argue that you should “make every moment count?” I’m not sure how a person could actually make more out of the time it takes to brush one’s teeth, or balance the checkbook, or mow the yard, or complete one’s taxes, etc. Next time you brush your teeth, tell yourself, "I'm really going to make this count!" and tell me how that works for you.

The idea behind “Live your dash” isn't necessarily as silly as what I've described above. Instead, it is the inspirational idea of living a meaningful life. So, think about your tombstone. On your tombstone is the date you were born and the date you died. The dash in between the two dates is your life. What do you want that dash to signify?

Would thinking about your mortality on a daily basis help you to live a better life? The question reminds me about the Misfit’s observation in Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” “She would have been a good woman,” the Misfit said, “if there had been someone to shoot her every day of her life.” It’s a great line, but is it true? Do we need to marinate in our mortality to comprehend how we should live our lives?

If you’ve visited a cemetery recently, you probably noticed how many people have died – row after row. In fact, one guesstimate I discovered in a quick Google search suggests that over 100 billion people have died since the beginning of the human race. Most of these lives have been long forgotten. Only a handful, really, even have grave markers or any written records to indicate that a real person ever existed. Does it even matter what you do in this life if nothing you do is remembered? If, once dead, you are quickly forgotten? If 100 billion people live and die and nobody knows or cares, what makes your life any more special?

Does it matter how you live your dash? If so, why? If not, why not?

“Plato says that the unexamined life is not worth living. But what if the examined life turns out to be a clunker as well?” – Kurt Vonnegut


  1. Do you have a memory of anything your maternal grandfather's maternal grandmother ever did? Can you even easily figure out who she was? Can you imagine that you would be alive if she had never lived?

    Does it matter at all how she lived her dash?


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