Friday, January 29, 2010

Expiration Dates

    There it was, way in the back of the refrigerator, an unopened container of sour cream. Exactly what I needed to top my spinach and mushroom quesadilla - yummy!

But DANG IT!!! The expiration date was like 8 months ago. I opened it anyway. It’s sour cream for goodness sake. It’s already sour. Surely if it had never been opened it’d still be good - right? WRONG. I’ll spare you the details. Sadly I had to toss a full container of sour cream in the garbage.

    That happened about three days before I was scheduled to jump out of an airplane for an episode of MidlifeRoad Trip. It got me to thinking about expiration dates.

Like it or not, all of us have an expiration date. But unlike sour cream, we don’t know when it is.  Any doubts I had about skydiving vanished as I thought of what a waste it was to throw away an unopened container of sour cream.

When ever my expiration date rolls around, I don’t want any unexplored opportunities, unfulfilled experiences or unchased dreams left in my container. I want my container empty with the insides licked clean.

There’s something about Midlife when your hair starts graying, your bones start aching and your… you know … starts you knowing, that makes you start thinking about your own mortaility.

This is one of my favorite poems of all time. I think it puts expiration dates in their proper perspective.

The Dash Poem
by Linda Ellis

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.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth

And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,

The cars, the house, the cash,

What matters is how we live and love

And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard;

Are there things you'd like to change?

For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough

To consider what's true and real
And always try to understand

The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more

And love the people in our lives

Like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,

Remembering that this special dash

Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read
With your life's actions to rehash

Would you be proud of the things they say

About how you spent your dash?

© 1996 Linda Ellis

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