Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Dash

Have you ever heard of, or read the poem "The Dash"?  I think this is a poem that most people have heard of but maybe you haven't read it in awhile.  I've been thinking of this poem a lot this week because of my involvement with the Iowa Soybean Association's Ag-Urban Initiative program.  Some of you may know that I do some independent consulting and contract work, and one of the programs I contract coordinate is the Ag-Urban Initiative.  This leadership program brings together urban and agriculture leaders together to collaborate, find common understanding, and produce solutions that benefit Iowa.  There are two main parts to the program: one - an in depth look at servant, values-driven leadership, and two - creating an individual ag-urban community project.  I truly believe this leadership program is like no other and I'm so proud of the Class of 2013 who graduated yesterday.

This program has evolved every year since it began in 2007 and I feel like this year's class was one of the best year's yet!  This class became a community of their own and I know they all made life-long connections and friendships.  Official recruitment for the Class of 2014 won't begin until January but if you are interested in learning more, let me know, or check out the Ag-Urban Initiative website for updates on details of the 2014 program.

In dedication of the Class of 2013, I'd now like to share with you the words of "The Dash", written by Linda Ellis (Copyright 1996):

I read of a man who stood to speak
at a funeral of a friend.
Her referred to the dates on he tombstone,
from the beginning... to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her 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
that she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
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 can sill be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what's true and real
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And 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 you life's actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?

How are you living your dash?


  1. i had forgotten about this poem --- what a nice post and what a nice reminder to live my dash the best way possible. Your work with the Leadership program sounds very rewarding and meaningful. So glad that there are people like you who take the time to make a difference.

  2. We have a leadership program here too that I completed. It's not all agriculture related, but part of it is. I loved it and after I completed it joined the team that helps put it on. It's a great program for anyone to do!