There are two significant dates in man's life, his date of birth and his date of death. But what is more important is what happen in between those dates. Let's learn from the story that follows.

A young boy was struggling with how he should live his life, how he should become a man and what were his responsibilities both to himself and to his community.

He talked about it with his father as he struggled one day... His father asked him to get in the car with him for a little drive.

The drive took about a half hour. As they drove, the father asked his son what kind of questions were bothering him. The son didn't know the correct questions so he blurted out that he wanted to know about life, how to live it, and what he should do.

The father listened quietly as his son tried to find the words to ask the right questions as they were very important to him. The car arrived at a local cemetery, where the father got out of the car and took his son by the hand.

They walked quietly among the graves, stopping from time to time at various gravestones for around a half hour, finally stopping at a mediation bench set on the grounds across from the headstone of another gravesite which said:

The father pointed at the little dash that separated the dates and said, "Son, do you see that little dash there?"  "Yes, father," he answered.

"In that little dash, which will also be on your gravestone one day, is everything that composed that person's life: How he will be remembered, what he did for his family, whom he loved and who followed him; his accomplishments and his life; and what he did for his community, his fellow men and his country. His whole life, as will yours and mine, will be summed up in that one little dash. Live your life to make your dash just as good as his dash. Do you understand?"  "I think so, father,"  the son answered.

The grave belongs to Pat Tillman who was one of those athletes who both played sports at the highest professional levels and participated in wartime combat. The former Arizona State University football player started at safety through four seasons with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals before enlisting in the Army in May 2002, and when the 27-year-old Tillman was killed in Afghanistan on 22 April 2004, his death made headlines all over the U.S. not just because he was the first NFL player to die in a war in 34 years, but because he had selflessly walked away from a $3.6 million contract to serve his country as an $18,000-a-year Army Ranger.

Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice. What matters is not our competence, but our character. It is not how many people we knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when we are gone. What matters is not our memories but the memories that live in those who love us. What matters is how long we will be remembered, by whom and for what.




Related page: Our Dash



 It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived. A useless life is an early death.