Recently I received the book form of the poem titled: The Dash, by Linda Ellis. The poem speaks of the importance not of the date of a person’s birth, nor of the date of death, but the importance of the little dash in between those dates. That dash represents a person’s time on earth. The poem invites us to look at how we spend our dash, our time on earth.
My sister’s first son lived only two hours. She never got to see or hold her baby. He would have been fifty-two years old now, and she has never missed putting flowers on his grave each Memorial Day. At the other end of the spectrum, our grandmother lived to be ninety-six.
I’ve lived more than two-thirds of my dash. Or, maybe it will end before the day is out. None of us really know, do we? I’ve had a good run in my life so far, but I’m not done. I have be given another opportunity to hide behind shame and fear and live my remaining days doing nothing, or, to rise above adversity and use my time to facilitate change in society’s perception of bald women. I’ve chosen to put the rest of my dash into rising above and facilitating change.
So, these days I spend long hours in front of my computer learning how to create a platform from which I can reach women to educate, facilitate acceptance and encourage. I want to create a strong network of women helping women cope with hair loss.
Aesop wrote a story about a crow, half-dead with thirst, that came upon a pitcher that had just a little water at the very bottom. He could not reach far enough down to get a drink. He tried, and tried, but finally gave up in despair. Then a thought came to him. He picked up a pebble in his beak and dropped it into the pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped it into the pitcher. And another, and another. Pebble by pebble at last he saw the water rise high enough to quench his thirst and save his life.
Each woman who chooses to face the world boldly bald, without apology, without embarrassment or shame, and then reaches out to help another woman, is a pebble in the pitcher of change. When there are enough of us, perceptions of bald women will change. Instead of a source of bullying in school and evoking negativity in society, a bald head will simply become unremarkable. People will no longer ask if we are undergoing chemo, or attempting to make a rebellious statement.
When my eulogy is read, I want to be remembered as a woman who always did what she could, where she was, with what she had to make a positive difference in her lifetime.
What about you? What will you do to make the most of your dash? How do you want to be remembered? Please add your comments below.