Mind the Dash

“The Space Between Events” was an essay read to us last week in an evening yoga class; and as you might surmise by the title it was about the parts of your life that are the day-to-day minutiae that, over time, are life. The events are what they are, and they are but minutes in the big picture of all the years that become the life we have lived.  For a week I’ve been thinking about the space between events, so it was rather rattling last night while reading a book called “A Walk On The Beach: tales of wisdom from an unconventional woman”  when one of the two main characters, the unconventional woman, was in a cemetery, and she tapped her cane on a headstone and said, mind the dash, explaining the little dash on a tombstone that is that space between the date of birth and the date of death, that this is where the living goes, mind the dash…   Born – Died   …and it struck me, as words oh so often do, that mind the dash is expressing very much the same idea as the space between events and I felt really enriched by both the words and my actions of these last 18 months of my life from when I began my experiment of my year of ‘yes.’

When I was invited to share in a friend’s 50th birthday celebration on a cruise ship in the spring of 2017, my initial response was no.  No because of work or no because of money or no because of time…but then my smarter side of my brain said to me, you are self-employed, you can borrow the money from your parents, and you no longer have a child to care for and you don’t have a spouse to answer to and you can make all the time you want to do all the things you want…she is very smart, that smarter side of me, and so I changed my answer to yes.  I also decided at that time that yes would be my answer to anything that I really wanted to do for a year, and it has now been a year and a half and I find that yes, and no, have become full, and fulfilling, sentences in and of themselves.

These months of purposefully changing the way I think about, well, most everything, have been eye-opening.  I often forget how hard my life was, when I was young, and raising my baby, and working, and college and blah-blah-blah…I have written it all before, it was hard…and now my life is, for the most part, while not easy, it’s not hard…I work hard and I play when I want to.  I love and care for myself in the ways that make me happy; I clean, I organize, I plant flowers, I read and I crochet, I am learning yoga, I get pedicures, I am making my  -dash-  as happy as I have the power to make it, and I believe that initiating a ‘year of yes’ was the start of living a much happier life.

Sure, stuff makes me mad…mean people, aggressive drivers, bad bicyclists, the horrifically inelegant way the president speaks, weeds in my stones, miscounting an entire crochet row, items ringing up incorrectly at Acme…I could go on and on about stuff that annoys me, but I find that I don’t really pay as much attention anymore to what makes me mad as much as I pause to recognize what makes me glad…perfectly folded sheets and towels in the linen cupboard might seem silly to you, but that sort of thing makes me happy.  A great conversation with a granddaughter on our way to the bus stop as we notice the sun rise behind the cedars makes me happy.   Seeing how happy my mom and dad are with their new little puppy makes me happy.  Remembering that I have a mom and dad who are healthy and have a happy life makes me happy.  Even the unexpected BOOM of a bass drum when my boyfriend, out of the blue decides to go upstairs to the loft and play with his drums makes me happy.  My daughter, wandering down the driveway to my house just to chat, that grows into laughter over rich red wine, makes me happy.  One of the social media groups I follow asked last night, “what do you do for self-care?” and it made me recognize that I do a lot.  I am much better at caring for my very own self at this age, at this point in my  -dash- than I ever imagined was possible!  What a revelation!!

I am learning and practicing that finding the good, seeking the joy, laughing at the funny, dreaming in the sunny, recognizing the happy, IS the way to love the space between events, it IS the minding of the dash.  Events are births, jobs, marriages, moves, deaths, break-ups, you know, the BIG stuff that happens over time, but the little things are what makes a life.  I hope you, gentle reader, think about your dash today…whatever you find you might be doing; working, playing, reading, chores, games, laughter, crying, exercising, napping, WHATEVER you do today, let it be a choice, let it be a “yes,” and if you don’t want to do some thing, then say “no,” and let that be your full sentence.  We only get one dash. Be mindful of it.


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