I saw a plaque nailed to a wall the other day that read “Your Life is comprised of two dates and dash. Make the most of that dash.” I didn’t fully comprehend at the moment what the word dash meant. Was it that everything goes so fast, that is dashing back and forth everywhere we go on a daily basis? Or, perhaps that the life that we live follows a line, though I admit that the line is seldom straight. Then, reality caught up with my brain: “Date – Date”, e.g., “1872 – 1925″. Oh, that kind of dash. Everything I do or do not do is reduced to a single character representing the correlation between the year I was born and the year I died. On a tombstone. In a public records book.
What the heck? What am I doing to make the most of that dash? What part of my life, or what is it about my life that deserves expansion beyond a simple dash?
Well, not nothing – I have an awesome family which I love very much and am loved by – but nothing Earth-shattering. I haven’t found a new continent, discovered a vaccine for cancer, led anyone in combat, or given millions of greenbacks to charity.
I’ve had many excellent friendships, have an amazingly loving family, have worked 9to5 jobs and have paid bills to creditors for decades. The primary thread that has developed, aside from much unproductive day-dreaming, has been a habit of studying martial arts, particularly Tai Chi.
How can merely studying a martial art lead to mention beyond a dash? Lao Tzu and Confucius already performed the hard work of developing the underpinning philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism. Countless others have commented expertly on these writings, and/or translated them into their own languages. Others have documented the biggest and smallest details of Tai Chi itself: Wen Shan Huang’s Fundamentals of Tai Chi Ch’uan, Wang Peisheng and Zeng Weiqi’s Wu Style Taijiquan, or Zhang Yun’s The Complete Taiji Dao.
My unique contribution is a positive attitude, blended with study of Tai Chi Ch’uan, and my “new” art of Tang Soo Do. By bringing a positive attitude/outlook to the study and the teaching of these arts, I can make a difference in the lives of my family, students and community. Time will tell whether history will remember me as well as those above, but what matters today is how I interact with family, friends, teachers and students … and a positive attitude is critical to achieving positive relations with everyone. Positive attitude will embody the dash between my years.