Beliefnet
From the Masters

An excerpt from The Dash by Linda Ellis and Mac Anderson.

While it still amazes me, a simple poem I wrote one afternoon forever changed my life. It all began when I faxed a copy of this poem to a syndicated radio show in Atlanta. Soon after receiving it, the host of this popular show read it on the air. Little did I know how much my life would change from that day forward. Titled The Dash, these 36 lines have touched millions of lives and have literally taken on a life of their own by traveling all over the world. I call it uncomplicated poetry in a complicated world.

People are always asking me what, in particular, inspired me to write this poem. I believe it was a combination of things in my life at the time. It was during a period when I was working for the top executives of a very large and successful corporation. It was a strict company with a tense working environment.

I began to watch how the priorities in many lives there had become misaligned. It seemed to me that the bosses were worrying far too much about that which was inconsequential in the scope of life.

Also, resonating in the back of my mind were the words from a letter which had been previously routed around the office. It had been written by the wife of an employee who was aware that she was dying. I was so moved by that letter that I saved a copy of it and continue to live by her words:

Regrets? I have a few. Too much worrying. I worried about finding the right husband and having children, being on time, being late and so on. It didn’t matter. It all works out and it would have worked out without the worries and the tears.

If I would have only known then what I know now. But, I did and so do you. We’re all going to die. Stop worrying and start loving and living.

Her words stuck with me. Her letter made me stop and think. This is it. This is all we get.

I remember where I was when I first truly realized the significance of the piece that I had written. I was on a business trip in Minnesota, alone in a hotel room. I received an emotional email thanking me for sharing the message of The Dash from a student who had recently heard it as part of a memorial gathering for the Columbine High School students. I sat on the bed and cried.

Several years later, I found myself engulfed in the thoughts and feelings created by my own words as I listened to them read aloud, for what seemed like the very first time, at the funeral of my father…my best friend.

From being performed in an elementary school play somewhere in the heartland of America to being part of a State Supreme Court Justice’s speech, from being printed in best-selling novels to high school yearbooks, The Dash has truly affected millions. I may not be able to change the world with these words, but I have certainly been able to influence a portion of it! The poem’s words have convinced mothers to spend more time with their children, fathers to spend more time at home, and reunited long-lost loved ones.

The words have changed attitudes, and changed the direction of lives. They have, in their own way, made a difference. I know writing The Dash has changed my life. I hope reading it, in some way, may change yours.

To learn more about The Dash, please click here!

Reprinted by permission of Simple Truths (c) 2011. In order to protect the rights of the copyright holder, no portion of this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent. All rights reserved.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus