In 1996 Linda Ellis wrote a poem called The Dash. I’m not sure what rock I’ve been living under, but it took me until today to discover this thought-provoking yet straightforward poem. The story goes that Linda was working in corporate America at a big corporation under conditions that most of us can identify with. A strict work environment where everyone was always on edge. To Linda, there were too many people trying to make a living and not enough people trying to make a life. Linda thought to herself, “This is it? This is all we get?”

So Linda decided to sit down and put paper to pen (this was 1996 after all), and she wrote The Dash. She took a copy of the finished poem and on a lark faxed it (yes, that’s right she faxed it) to a syndicated Atlanta radio show. The on-air personality read the poem on the air, and it became an instant hit. Calls were coming in from all over about Lindas’ poem.



What does the Dash mean? 

When you die, there are two dates on your tombstone, the date you were born and the date you died. Those two days are the shortest days of your entire life. What matters is what’s in between those dates — the dash.

The dash is your life. It is all the days you lived. It encompasses everything about you, who you are, who you loved, and who loved you.  Your dash tells your story. The dash is how you make a difference for yourself and the world from the beginning to the end.

As a whole, people need to step back and appreciate the simple things in life that bring us happiness and joy. Often these simple things are right in front of our eyes — the laugh of our children, time spent with friends, or a sunrise or sunset.

Sometimes we forget to be grateful for what we have in life: our family, our friends, our health. Take time to realize how many things in your life you have that you are thankful for. Cherish every minute you have with your loved ones, be kind to others, and give back when you can.

The simple things in life are finite. We have a certain amount of sunrises and sunsets.  The unfortunate part is not knowing how many we have left. This is why it’s critical to live every day like it could be our last because we never know when that final day will come.  Start living your life for today, and let this poem remind you to live, to love, and to make the most of your dash.




Thinking of what you’ve done so far in this lifetime, are you happy with how you’ve lived your dash? Let me know in the comments.

For more read How and Why We Lie To Ourselves



  1. Erica (The Prepping Wife)

    When I first read this poem a few years ago, my mother was being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the two things really had a profound effect on me. I really started to pay attention to “living my dash” and exactly what that meant to me. I still try to each and every day, and be the best person I can be.

    • Scott DeNicola

      Thanks Erica. I wish I found it sooner for myself!

  2. Kim

    Love this:. A wonderful reminder of what’s important. Thank you for sharing!

    • Scott DeNicola

      Thanks for the comment Kim.


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