A dear friend of mine died last Saturday. Stupid cancer. On Sunday, my friend’s wife posted on Facebook the years of his birth and death, separated by a dash, and underneath the dates was the statement “It’s all about the dash.”
And it really is, isn’t it?
Your birth and death are just dates – it’s what you do with the time in between that really counts. This isn’t an expat thing, it’s a human thing. Though following my dream of being an expat is certainly a big part of my dash. As I prepare to move to Paris (two months from today!), I’ve found myself questioning if I am doing the right thing, if this is the right decision for me. I’m scared. Terrified even. But when I look back on my dash, it’s filled with times when I refused to let fear or uncertainty make my decisions for me so why should I let them start now?
I don’t think any of us starts out aiming to have a dash filled with fear or monotony or playing it safe. I think we all want a dash where we follow our bliss (shout out to Joseph Campbell!), where joy and love lead the way, where we are always learning, and where fun and laughter are commonplace. But when the weight of everyday life bears down, I think it’s easy to lose sight of the dash. We are all guilty of doing things because they are easier or safer or expected. It’s easy to lose sight of what would make us truly happy, of what would make our dash truly exceptional.
Everyone’s dash is different but, in honor of those whose dashes are cut short, make yours what you want it to be. Not what you think it’s expected be. Not what others want it to be. Not what you think is safest or easiest. If you are thinking about doing something, do it. Even if you are scared. Even if you don’t know how things will turn out. Just do it.
It’s the big things. It’s the little things. It’s all the things.
- Take that vacation.
- Write that book.
- Go back to school.
- Get out of that bad relationship.
- Get the concert tickets.
- Let your kids stay home from school just because.
- Play in the snow.
- Make the career change.
- Tell your crush how you feel.
- Learn that foreign language.
- Jump in the leaves.
- Drink the good wine.
- Run that marathon.
- Learn to tango.
- March in that protest.
- Move to Paris.
Or do something else. Whatever you want. It’s your dash – and that’s what it’s all about.