Monday, April 18, 2011

Dashing Through Life

Thought for the dayI've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.  Maya Angelou

It'd be a lot easier if life were laid out like a marked highway, wouldn't it? All we'd have to do is keep our eye on that center line and follow the road straight to our final destination. No guesswork involved. No tough decisions. Why, there'd even be signs to warn us of the bumpy patches ahead, and of the "dips" we're likely to encounter.

And just think! If we doze off and start to wander off-track, by golly, there'd be signs to tell us:

Just think how many divorces could have been avoided!

But, in truth, life would be rather boring if it were all laid out for us. Where's the spirit of adventure in that? Even though I'm directionally challenged, I love exploring those little dirt roads in life.

My husband and I spent several unforgettable weekends at a mountain cabin with another couple. Wonderful people. Like me, my husband also likes to venture off the beaten path, and thankfully, he has an uncanny sense of direction to go with it, so as long as I stick with him, I'll always find my way home again. The other couple, on the other hand, preferred the safety of the paved road, and the well-worn path. The four of us were tromping on a trail through the woods one day, when I heard the distant sound of water. Natch, I got all excited and took off through the woods. And natch, so did my husband. Our friends stayed glued to the marked trail at first, but quickly decided it was scarier to stay behind than it'd be to follow us. We encountered a multitude of large trees, downed and tangled, so we climbed over them. Ran into brambles galore, but we kept going. But as we climbed through and over the obstacles, the sound of water got louder and louder, until we finally emerged into a sun-lit clearing. It was worth every single scratch and bug bite we'd endured, and every bead of sweat we'd perspired. For there we were, beside a small, secluded waterfall.

And we would've missed that beautiful moment if we hadn't been willing to take the scenic path. The detour. It's wonderful to have a clear destination in mind, but the trip is so much more enjoyable if we learn to enjoy the scenery along the way. Children insist on becoming adults, and you'll only have one shot at enjoying their childhoods. Our parents grow old and die, and then there's no time left to chat with them on the phone, or to stop in for a visit. Our friends pass away, or move away, or simply leave our lives. Shouldn't we enjoy them while we can? I originally planned on calling my blog "Never2Late."  That very much reflects my optimistic viewpoint of life, but the unpleasant truth is ... sometimes, it IS too late.

Sorry! I've gotta dash!
 Hurry, hurry, hurry. No time to stop and chat. No time to listen to the response after you ask someone how they're doing. Gotta dash, gotta dash.

I want to leave you with another thought about our mad dash through life.

The Dash is an inspirational poem that starts:

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

This poem was written in 1996 by Linda Ellis, and her words have inspired millions of people all over the world. She writes about that little line, that simple "dash" on a tombstone that represents the real story of a lifetme, that defines who we are beyond a simple beginning and end date, and touches, simply and succinctly, on what's truly important in life. Here's  the entire poem   I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

How about you? Are you strictly goal-oriented, or do you enjoy life's surprising detours?

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. What can I say? I gotta dash!

No trees were killed in the sending of this message. However, a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.


  1. This is one of my favorite posts ever. Such wisdom here. Thanks for the reminder to go with the flow a bit more.

  2. Ah yes, the dash. I used to dash. Then I stopped. Now I just kind of meander. I don't mind the unpaved road as long as there are no lions or tigers or bears. Bug bites and scratches don't bother me. And I used to have a great sense of direction when I lived near the beach. Not anymore. Mountains confuse me.

  3. Great post - loved the parallels between the real paths and the more ethereal kind ... The poem is great too.
    Really enjoyed, thanks :-)

  4. Hello, Ladies. Thanks for stopping by. I always love to hear your comments.

    Karen- I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

    Anne- Yeah, I meander, too. (especially when I get lost!) At least with the mountains, you don't have to worry about hurricanes and flooding. And wow, the VIEW! At least, if you get lost in the mountains, you have a terrirfic view to enjoy.

    Karla- I'm glad you liked the poem. It almost always brings a tear to my eye.

  5. Very ispirational poem! It really makes you appreciate what you have. I also liked the Maya Angelou quote about the mitts. Julie

  6. Susan, You write with such sincere meaning and it's inspiring to many. We rush, we dash, we sprint to get ...Where? I did it and I guess I still do but EVERYTHING means more to me now. I take pleasure in every person I meet, as I do in meeting you. I enjoyed the poem and the Angelou quote.

  7. Hi, Julie. I'm glad you liked the poem and quote.

    And hello, Manzanita. (and what a beautiful name!) Thank you. Our time may be growing shorter, but it is also sweeter, because now, we don't just live life; we savor it.

  8. Great post! I'm all about the journey myself. Goals are a fine tether, but if you let them pull you too tightly, you miss out on so much.

  9. Hi, Linda. I'm glad you liked it. You're right; I never thought of it in quite those terms before, but goals certainly can become tethers if you let them. Take care.

  10. Hi Susan What a delightful post! Thank you for sharing with us about roads of life. I really enjoyed your outlook. Love, Ruby

  11. This post reminded me of the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.

    I have come to appreciate the detours.

  12. Hi, Grammy. Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. You know a lot more about the roads of life than I do, so I really appreciate your comment.

    Hi, Florida. That's a good poem, too. Glad to hear you appreciate the detours. We can't always do much about them, so we might as well enjoy them.

    Take care.

  13. Just reading through your blog and thought this was a wonderful post. I agree with what you say that sometimes it IS too late. We need to do what we can now, live our dreams now, have a sense of adventure now and spend time with out loved ones now! Then when it comes to our time to leave this world, hopefully, we won't have any regrets. In answer to your question, while I do have some goals, I don't get overly upset if I don't reach them exactly. My husband too, pefers to go off the beaten track and enjoy life's detours and I have leared to do that too. We have had some wonderful adventures because of it! I remember once, while on holiday in Sardinia, he decided to drive down a very mysterious looking tiny road simply because it looked interesting and nobody else was going there. At first, I was tentative but we went anyway. At the end he drove onto a beautiful sandy beach but the car got stuck in the sand. We had to be dug out by some helpful local people using machinery! They couldn't speak english, we couldn't speak italian but we spent the evening with them, in their house, as their guests eating and drinking and laughing! It was a wonderful night and still sticks in my mind. We would never have had that lovely detour had we not taken a chance and gone the road less travelled!

  14. fsmum- I'm truly humbled that you took the time to look through some of my old posts. Thank you. I'm especially glad you liked this one in particular, because a lot of my posts are humorous or downright silly, so it's nice to know I can get away with being more serious at times. Your story about Sardinia is the perfect example of finding fun and adventure (and new friends!) down an unbeaten track. Thanks so much for sharing.