The all-important Hyphen
The hyphen: there is really not a lot to it.
At first glance, a small stroke using up less ink than a capital I (or lower
case for that matter), the hyphen holds many roles but is mainly used as a
The hyphen brings words together.
Conveniently located adjacent to the numerals on your keyboard, the hyphen is
one of those reliable punctuation marks in a writer’s tool kit. It’s fairly
popular, rather practical, occasionally suffers from overuse, but has never
really been one of my go-to keys; I’m more of a semicolon guy.
The hyphen’s use and usefulness cannot be ignored. It’s helps modify and can
brighten up even the most euphorically-sunny day, further define a well-dressed
man in a made-to-measure three-piece suit, and can attach lovers joined by their
wedding vows. The hyphen, many times, can also be used to delineate parts within
a written date, or represent a span in time.
I suppose the weight of the hyphen really just occurred to me as I, again,
thought of my father and of his recent passing. I glance at his obituary and the
88 years summed up with a simple keystroke. Beneath his name sits a date of
birth and a date of passing; important dates indeed, but what of all the years
My father was just that, a true father. A Dad. But he was also son, and a
brother as well. He was a husband, uncle, brother-in-law, and a friend,
colleague, partner and co-worker. With each of those roles came responsibilities
he never seemed to shirk in a life filled with events and occasions, holidays,
graduations, weddings and anniversaries, career advancement, new cars and homes,
All those hours spent guiding his children, the lessons learned and wisdom
passed on, all represented by an insignificant hyphen.
It got me thinking about all the time between the start and stop of his life,
and mine. He made so much of his time on this planet, and I am just here.
I’m living in the hyphen right now and I have no idea when my full stop might
come. I would like to think the present is just another comma in the pages of a
life that still has many sentences and chapters to go, but maybe it’s time to be
There are goals still not realized, and a purpose not fully defined. I have a
great deal to offer my family and friends, and to those I have yet to meet.
There is more life to live, and more air to breathe. I’d like to think there are
many hyphens still within my grasp.
I guess its about deciding to make the hyphen important and squeezing as many
memories and moments into this one small dash. I need now to be more open to
changes that will inevitably happen, to be prepared to accept compromise and
It’s also time now to start paying attention to the smaller hyphens, the ones
that fall between self and awareness, or realization. Or preservation. Call it
self-examination. I don’t think I’m much different than any of us presented with
our middle-aged life (talk about a shocking hyphen). We all look at where we
were, and consider where we are going. How we will get there, and where exactly
I know I need to worry less about situations beyond my control, to be less
suspicious of others, and make myself more susceptible to options and emotions
presented to me. I need to be a more-reliable brother, and father. I need to be
a better friend, and I need to be able to become a stronger person. I need to
forgive more and criticize less (myself and others). I need to show a greater
aptitude for gratitude.
I need to live my life more by the example set by my father, and less like the
reckless self-absorbed teenager who once doubted his advice.
As stubborn as I am, I’ll still live by my words (or I will try), but in doing
so I will pay more attention to the hyphenation, beginning with less self-doubt and