Defining Your Dash

Defining Your Dash by Charlie Page

We live in a hectic time.

We hurry here, we scurry there.

It’s been said that when they excavate the ruins of 21st century America they will easily conclude that we worshipped clocks.

After all, we hang them on our walls and buildings.

We have them in every room of our houses and right next to our beds. We have them in our cars and at work too.

We even wear tiny clocks on our wrists!

Count the clocks in your life and you’ll see what I mean.

As busy people, we go through our days making decision after decision, choice after choice. But seldom do we slow down to reflect on how those choices and decisions will look on balance when we reach the end of our days.

Today we take a close look at doing just that. We consider how acting with integrity in the moment of choice will ensure that our lives end up being the testimony we want them to be.

If you have ever been to a cemetery you have probably noticed the straight rows of markers (some fancy, some simple) which testify to lives lived. Each marker bears a name, dates born and passed and sometimes a loving reference.

But a closer look reveals what each and every person had in common.

I’m talking of course about the dash.

That dash that represents what they chose to do with their lives between those two vital dates.

What occurs to me, what startles me, is that while I will choose neither the date of my birth nor the date of my death, I and I alone will be responsible for defining my dash.

That bears repeating …

While I will choose neither the date of my birth nor the date of my death, I and I alone will be responsible for defining my dash

And as I reflect on that it occurs to me that there are questions that must be asked.

While this list is not comprehensive, I hope it will be a good starting point for questions only you are qualified to answer.

Do we live in integrity?

While integrity has been defined in many ways, I believe it can best be defined as the space between your words and your deeds.

If you have children you have been blessed with a live-in integrity meter.

Just recently a third grader was sent to the principals office for cursing. The dutiful principal called the boy’s parents and soon the father arrived.

On being told what his son had done the father exclaimed “Where in the #%@* did he learn to speak like that?”

Where indeed.

Do we live honestly?

A further question to ask is “Are we honest with ourselves?”

When we commit to an honest life, both with ourselves and others, we will find a quality of life that simply can not be purchased with any other currency. We will live clean, knowing that we can look others straight in the eye and be ourselves.

What do we value?

To put a finer point on this, do we value people over things?

While having things is fine, it is the people in our lives that enrich it. It is our communication with people, verbal and otherwise, that can help us become more than we ever imagined.

Human interaction empowers us to help others discover their true worth as well.

Let me encourage you to take my list and add to it. Create your own list. Review your goals and see how they align with what you want your dash to be.

Review your actions from the past day, week, month and see how wide the gap is between your words and your actions.

Examine yourself and determine if what you are doing is in harmony with what you really want.

While all of our dashes will be defined differently, I know this one thing for certain. When it comes to defining your dash, YOU are the author.

Make it the best dash it can be.

Charlie Page Sig

Charlie Page

Happily married for 39 years, Charlie is the dad to two wonderful daughters. He is the author of 10 books on Internet marketing and owner of The Directory of Ezines, Follow Up Selling Systems, Common Sense Blog Blueprint and other membership sites.
  • Joel Young

    Another collection of wise words, Charlie. Thank you!

    It reminds me of a song I once wrote, the opening line being “In the end we all know what we’ve done”. The song basically expresses the fact that no matter what we tell others or even tell ourselves, at the end of the day (or our lives), deep down we know what sort of person we have been.

    We all need to continually re-examine our actions and motives, to make sure our dash leaves a good mark in history.

  • Mark

    Hi again Charlie, thank you for your insight into life. Yes we have clocks everywhere in our house. I thought that this letter was so inspirational that I sent it to our daughter interstate :)

  • Esti Allina

    True words of wisdom. I never considered myself a materialistic person, but when my husband sustained a brain injury nearly 6 years ago, and I became the sole income earner, making money became my whole fixation, leading me to waste time and money in the pursuit of making money! I’m not doing that anymore. I feel blessed to have what I have, and to not have what I don’t have. We lack for nothing, thank G-d. Having said that, I am currently in a process to see mySelf again, reconnect to my higher self, and discover how to make the world a better place using my gifts. My greatest fear has always been, not about not making money, but making a difference. Will my dash make a difference? Yes, it will.

  • Joan

    Awesome! Thanks Charlie!

    • Charlie Page

      Thanks Joan!

  • Barry Selk

    Thanks for the great post to reflect on. My pastor would have liked this posting as much as I do. But you are right on, it’s a hectic world we live in and everyday we see and hear examples where this is not taken into account. We would have a far more better world and people if everybody followed these simple steps for a start.
    Thanks again and God bless you and your family,

    • Charlie Page

      Thanks Barry. We are all learning and none of us is perfect. But it is very good to be reminded every day of how short life is and just how much choice we really are given.


  • Mitica Nicora

    Hi, Charlie
    Your words are a good start point for an inside soul reflection. Practically time is just a convention it doesn’t really exist; it’s just our mind that creates it. You cannot touch, compress, or expand the time. It’s a notion that is created only by our interaction with the environment. The time just stays still. It’s not the time that is passing through; WE are passing through the time. If the time would really exist, perhaps we could find some way to change our past mistakes. I think that every time we increase the first number to our age we change also our perception of the value of time. It becomes more and more precious. I’m 50 and I still got a lot of things to do with my life, things I neglected before because I thought there’s enough time. At the end I think we are too obsessed about this, and we forgot to live into “dolce far niente” as the Italians said (it means “sweet doing nothing”). My interpretation of this is not an approval for laziness, but the freedom that anyone should have, to do what he/she wants with his own life. Thanks for your post and I hope I didn’t bother anyone, asking also apologize for my limited English (I’m a Romanian native living in Italy) Have a nice day and a beautiful life.

    • Charlie Page

      Interesting thoughts. I appreciate you sharing.


  • Judy

    I loved this article Charlie, thank you!

    • Charlie Page

      Thanks Judy!

  • aida suarez

    Charlie, that piece of writing was beautiful. Thanks for share in it. What a gifted writer you are. So meaningful pointers highlighted! You should frame this… and also let it circulate some more. I feel after reading this blog, that you and I are old pen pals. Now I know Charlie Page more. You had poured here some perfume of your soul on this personal article. I can see thru those reflexions of yours the quality of person you are. Full of caring and honesty of course!
    This October 18 I will be celebrating my 80th birthday. Thank for the present! I will read it again that day! And I’ll try to write down my in between DASHES? Like in dashboard? and CARPE DIEM! Oh boy! Ha! English is not my native language! Google have to explain that to me more. God bless you and your family.

    • Charlie Page

      God bless you as well. Congratulations on 80 years – that is a huge milestone!


  • dick krafcik lcsw life coach

    Thanks once again for reminding me about whats really important in life. regards Dick Krafcik

    • Charlie Page

      Thanks Dick. I’m happy you enjoyed it!


  • Phyllis Thomas

    Very thought provoking article, Charlie, and so true. Thanks again for such wisdom and insight.

    • Charlie Page

      Thanks Phyllis! I very much appreciate your kind comments.


  • Julie

    Thank you Charlie I’m so grateful I found you.
    Julie DuBois

    • Charlie Page

      Thank you Julie. Great to hear from you!


  • Lawrence Mills

    Hi Charlie,

    This should be read by all as to gain some knowledge on how life should be and how we all should act.

    Integrity does seem to be pushed into the background now-a-days with the push for money and fancy goods.
    And at times there is no gratitude even when someone has gone out of their way to help or even when offering some advice.
    100% honesty is so hard to find as there always seems to be a lot of little white lies to cover up indiscretions.
    Values of most things in life are over rated with monitory values only, not by what they would actually worth to you personally.
    Regards, Laurie

    • Charlie Page

      Thanks Laurie. I agree with you and it seems this problem exists even more online, where people are so anonymous. But there are great people working online who do value honesty and integrity, and that encourages me.


  • Martin

    Hi Charlie,
    This post defines why I always read your emails.
    I love the comment that it seems that we worship clocks. That is a very telling statement.

    We have been given a gift to live in a world of beauty, love and magic, yet many are rushing towards their deaths without truly being in harmony with the wisdom of the universe.
    Love your work, Charlie.


    • Charlie Page

      Thanks Martin. I truly appreciate your comment. It made my day!


  • Kelley T

    Charlie, thank you for the reminder and your perspective. Finding balance and focus in our lives is a never ending but worthy pursuit. To carry your clock analogy a bit further, it is somewhat like the pendulum on a grandfather clock- it is always moving from one side to the other and is never resting in the middle- until it stops! Which of course equates to the “dash” in your story above Life’s balance is like that- always moving from one extreme or side to the other. Blessings to you Charlie.

    • Charlie Page

      Hi Kelly. I *like* that analogy. Thank you for sharing.


  • Rebecca

    Very good Charlie. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that too many people these days don’t even seem to know what the word integrity means. They are so caught up in instant gratification and getting wherever they’re going, and getting whatever they want, as fast as possible. They either forget about what a basic principles such as integrity is, or what ethics and real honesty are. Or perhaps in the madcap world, they never learned any of these things at all. I hope and pray there are more good, decent people than my experience has shown me. Otherwise ethical, honest, decent, upright people are by far the minority. And, it is these people you are writing this to.

    • Charlie Page

      I agree that the outlook for finding ethical people can look bleak. But we must never give up. And always remember that the example one sets is what draws others to a higher standard.

      Thank you for your comment.


  • Reuben

    Thank you for an excellent article. My ‘dash’ is about over. There are some ‘question marks’ and other things I wish I could change between the dashes, but, the blessings and good in my life far outweigh the bad.

    Love truly covers a multitude of sins.
    Thanks again for the reflections.

    • Charlie Page

      Thank you Ruben. Love does cover all, and is above all as well.


  • Simon Malcolm

    Hi Charlie,

    A good coach can teach a player not only how to play, but also how to live. How to polish great skill and refine their character.

    Thank you for being such a coach for me.


    • Charlie Page

      Thank you Simon. Beautifully said and I’m honored you see me in that light.


  • Weddy Rhamdeny

    Thanks millions Charlie, you are simply the best. Your words really hit my nerve. Yes, its absolutely right that I am the author of my life.

    • Charlie Page

      You are indeed! Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you taking the time.