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Between Now And The (The Dash)

Between Now And The (The Dash)


You see that moment when you have a soul-lifting and life-fulfilling conversation with someone and it hits you deeply? You have to sit back, take in a deep breath and analyze the entire conversation just to appreciate its depth once more? Well, it happened to me. It isn’t the first I have had such conversations but this particular one got me thinking for hours, hence, the birth of this article, Between Now And Then.

Under the scorching sun of the Osu Streets, right in front of “Breakfast To Breakfast“, one of my bosses and I sat enjoying a snack after our errand to Ghana Parliament House on 22ND July. Our earlier journey had been tiring and the heat from the sun didn’t do anything to help the situation. So as we sat catching our breaths and talking about just anything, an issue I brought up led to a whole conversation about the life humans live on earth from the day they are born to the day they die.

This boss of mine, who obviously has a lot of depth, talked deeply about the topic which left me in awe. After that conversation, I had a monologue or self-reflection (if you want to call it that) with myself. Right then and there, Linda Ellis’ poem “The Dash” came to mind. I went to reread it, reflected again on the depth of the message it carried then I knew I had to share my new found revelation with you guys.

So, let me ask…

boakye D alpha What’s bulging when you look at the gravestone of a deceased loved one? Is it the date of birth? Or the date of death? The date of birth, evidently, marked the start of an exciting journey (or not) for the deceased, and the date of death, just the culmination. So what is actually sticking out or calling for attention isn’t the date of birth nor the date of death but the dash (—). The dash is a summary of the life this person lived.

This is to reiterate the assertion that, the day we are born and the day we die as etched on the head of our gravestones are not important as the dash in between them. When each of us passes away…kick the bucket…pop our clogs…fall off the perch…take a dirt nap…or whatever metaphor you can think of for “dying”, the two significant dates on our headstones will be used to remember us, alright, but it is the dash in between those dates that will say a lot. The tiny dash mark reflects the entire time that you have lived on this planet—what you did with your time, what you involved yourself in, your very first love, your first kiss, the cake you had for your 16th birthday, the car you ditched, the staying up late to wish a friend a ” happy birthday”, the countdowns on the midnight of 31st December and the resolutions you never fulfilled, the heartbreaks…the ups and  downs you have been through…Everything.

Now, the only important question at this point is, How are you living your dash?  The way you want?  With what matters to you? Or you are just living on the whims of others? Do you let others’ opinions about you get to you? Are you just existing and waiting for the day you will breathe your last breath?

To ‘Live Your Dash’ means to live every day to the fullest. Live for the moment you’ve got right now. Motivate yourself to see life clearly for what it is even through blurred vision caused by the tears you shed every day. Life may be tough for you but you have to remember to “live your dash.” Cherish the simple euphoria of life that are in front of you every day. Even if it’s caused by the littlest acts. Occasionally we forget to be appreciative for what we have in our lives: our family, our friends, our health etc. Even being strong enough to withstand the downfalls of life is a “thing” to be appreciative of. Take the time to realize how many things you’ve got in your life that you’re thankful for. Be happy for those and allow joy into your “dash”. Don’t just be another leaf that existed on the tree and withered away just like that.

When met face to face with suffering and sorrow, and the threat of your own demise, difficult questions arise: “Am I living my life to its fullest?”, “Am I doing my best?”, “Would I be alleviated with my legacy on earth if I were to die tomorrow?”, “Have I been happy?” among others. You wouldn’t want to regret how you “lived your dash” when you are faced with death.

Again, “living your dash”, certainly, isn’t just about you and how you carpe diem your way out of life’s trajectory. Ultimately, it is also about the impact you made on the lives of others while you lived. The smiles you manage to put on the faces of those who would rather not smile (because life isn’t kind on them). The little acts of kindness that somewhat brought a change to the lives of others. If you are a writer, simply coming out of your shells and making sure you create the worlds that others may get lost in…writing that article or poetry that changes the lives of others is a way of ” living your dash.” If you are an artist, that painting you make which speaks volumes and brings a smile or hope to the face of others when looked at is also another way to “live your dash.” As a musician, that song you made that always gets people jumping up and down, that right there is also a way. Every little thing counts. At the end of the dash, you have to make sure you lived a fulfilled life.

Between now and then (the day you die), how you live life is the most important. How you react to situations do matter. How you live by others does matter. The choices you make do matter.

They say it’s important to live every day like it could be your last because you never know when that final day will come. Thinking of what you’ve done so far in this lifetime, are you happy with how you’ve lived your dash? Start living your life for today, and let this article and Linda’s poem (shared below) remind you to live, to love, and to make the most of your dash.



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 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 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 can still 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 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 spent YOUR dash?

Linda Ellis

(“The Dash” has become a memorial service staple that thousands of families recite each year when burying their dead.)

60 thoughts on “Between Now And The (The Dash)

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  28. Stanley Blay Twumasi Heavens

    I don’t know wether to comment on the article or your amazing writing prowess . You’re an amazing writer Alpha.

  29. This is really deep. I woke up this morning feeling like dirt but this has really inspired me. Thank you so much Alpha

  30. You out did yourself..The subject matter has so much depth beyond imagination..This really some worthwhile article..I am so glad I read it..

  31. Keep writing Alpha, we’ll surely live our dash. Thank you.

  32. Seth scribbles

    You’re a talented writer Alpha

  33. This is a …….
    I dont want to call it wonderful or unique or beautiful. They all sound like some awesome words to describe you but not the article. This is deep, like “Ocean depth”
    Thank you for the remainder

  34. Mohammed Mariam

    I’ve read on “the dash” before but this article is something else. Alpha, you do all . I’ll start considering on how to live my dash and always be grateful for the little things that brings joy in my life. God bless you, Paps.

  35. Thank you Alpha.

    I’ve really learnt a lot from this. I’m going to live my dash well.

  36. @darleysabutey

    Wow, I’ve learnt a lot. How am I living my dash

  37. I am touched
    Very deeply written

  38. Abraham Adu-Mills

    This is very insightful, and I have come to know that every day could be the end. I need to pursue what I am passionate about, and not just try to buy more time, for there is none as such.

    • Boakye D. Alpha

      A great lesson learnt, right?
      I’m glad you were able to decipher the message in the message.

  39. You got me glued to this writing; right from the start to the ending lines.

    Well done Alpha!

  40. This is really a thought provoking piece and a beautifully written piece. Thanks for sharing Alpha

  41. Thanks Alpha!
    I’ve learnt to be gentle with myself, appreciate my efforts and forgive my mistakes.
    Leaving, we must, and so should we live.

    Thanks again dear.

  42. Great piece.

  43. Efo Losu The Poet

    A piece so embellished!
    I love your bleeding pen, sir.

  44. Peter Sukuruman TABKA

    It’s quite experiential. The intertextuality is apt with the message put acrossed. Great piece of motivation. Keep writing.

  45. Prince George

    This is wonderful. A very insightful and inspiring article.
    Thank you

  46. Bernice Asare

    This is stimulating. I love it. I’ll ‘live my dash’ well.

  47. Baffour Akoto

    Great Great Great work Very wonderful piece. It speaks volumes

  48. Addotey George MINGLE

    This is a grea piece
    Thanks or sharing

  49. That’s an emotional piece but insightful

  50. This is one of most thought provoking articles I’ve read recently.

    I’ve never really paid attention to “the dash” before now. Life is truly worth more than birth and death.

  51. Anonymous Khan

    I am in tears, well written, well explained, this was so well presented and formulated that I see not one fault or otherwise with any sentences or anything, a very open minded and well worded article, I love it and I am in awe with its rich content. Great work Alpha, definitely a great work. I can feel the inspiration that had you buzzing to write this. Keep going, you are amazing!

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