Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Doing the Dash

"Somewhere between the beginning and the end, that's where I am in my journey."
~ Terrence Howard

Are we not all in that same place; in the middle of the journey, somewhere between the beginning and the end? Or at least, don't we all hope that we are in the middle? Perhaps, if in your elder years you may feel that you are closer to the end of the journey. But of course no one knows for certain.

We just know we are somewhere on the dash. The dash is the mark which lies between our birth date and the date of death. Recently, the oldest man in world died at age 113. When he was 70 did he believe, know and behave like he had 43 more years to live?

In a few weeks, I will turn a year older. What I do with my dash matters to me. Whether in the middle of the journey or near the end, I want the words I write and the stories I tell, to honor my ancestors and give hope to children. Words and stories live on long after we are gone. They become the legacy we leave behind. So I ask myself, “What legacy do you want leave?”

My prayer and vision is that it will be said that I told truth: even when it was not popular or convenient. It is my hope that my truth helped heal or inspire someone else. If my willingness to disclose my experiences, both those in the valley and on the mountaintop, enables another to let go past pain or forge ahead with greater courage, then I would consider my life well lived.

My mentor, Baba Jamal Koram, has often posed the question, “For what purpose do you tell the story?” He pushes me to examine my intentions and reflect on the impact the story will have on the receiver. Often I have grapple with how much to disclose; who will be affected; and how relevant what I have to say is to those who will receive it. Truth telling just for truth-telling sake is not acceptable. I have a responsibility to be responsible.

Wisdom does not simply happen by being on the planet for a certain period of time. Maya Angelou said, "Most people don't grow up. Most people age.” With the dawn of a new year on my journey, I pray that I have grown-up just a little bit more. For me, growing up involves getting wiser because of the valley experiences and not in spite of them. As I move further down the dash, my desire is to have the courage to tell the truth and the wisdom to know when to tell it.

1 comment:

Queen Nur said...

Driving along the roads last week, dashes that get me from one place to another, I was contemplating the last years of my life. What am I going to leave? What am I going to do to affect a legacy? I began to itemize.

Looking at life lines on my paternal side, I ascertain I am not going to live another 43 years. So, what am I going to do with the time that is left?.....Most certainly a great percentage less than I have lived.

Two thoughts this morning are Sunday Shouts. First, I was talking with my daughter about things to do at my end. Discussing what may be complicated. Her response was,"I guess then that you should just concentrate on living." Second, "Doing the Dash" engenders thoughts anew. My legacy is already written, and the language of it is unbeknown to me. For, I will not be here to know what is said of the life I lived.

As for planning a legacy, all we have is this present moment. Our breath is the now. Seconds, minutes, days and all else afterward is but the Grace of Allah. I can only hope that my life reflects the gratitude of that Grace.