What’s Between the Spaces
Revisiting an Old Column as Year-End Reflections Loom
by Jack Guarnieri, Jersey Jack Pinball & PinballSales.com
There is a column I wrote back in December 2005 that people still remind me about. It talked about the idea of “the dash,” which wasn’t an original idea of mine, but resonated deeply with me. The column stuck with more than a few readers, so we dug back into the “Jersey Jack Archives” to re-run it here.
It’s been 13 years since this ran and I feel the same about it today. I’m lucky I still get to chat with my Dad every day. So, to Mikey and the others who have asked about it, as well as new readers, I hope you enjoy it.
December already, another year almost gone. Auld Lang Syne coming along soon. I don’t really have time to get sentimental and mushy this month because I am way too busy, thankfully. Time passes too quickly, we all know that. As we look back on this year, we think about all of the things we did or did not get to do and how many things we may plan for next year and beyond.
What are you really working for? I’m not talking about the real material things that we all need to work for, but the things that you can’t really see or touch. What have you done with your life? What have you stood for and what you have taught others? What examples have you left, and impressions have you made? These are the things more valuable than material things.
When you’re gone, your house will be sold, your car will be driven off and your worldly possessions will not go with you, they’ll be passed along to others. When you’re gone, you’ll come to rest at some place or other, and at that place your name will be carved, etched or written. It will have the date that you were born and the date that you died. In the middle it will have a dash –– just a dash. That dash represents your life. That simple little dash comes to represent every single day of your life. What are you doing with your dash?
Now, I said I’m not going to get all sentimental here, but I want you to think about that dash. Think about how short it is. If you look at it on your keyboard, it doesn’t even get enough respect to get its own key. It’s not even on the top of the key at that. Think about the word dash. Think about its use in a sentence, maybe the “Dashing Dan” or the 50-yard dash. It’s a hurried word. Always dashing from place to place. That’s a fitting description of our lives, that little dash between the day we are born and the day we die.
Your life should be more than a dash. Your life should be a time when you wonder, love, explore, learn, grow, enjoy, share, mentor, nurture, teach and love even more, always. That little dash matters to the people you touch, the people who love and care about you. When I was 19 years old in 1976, I wrote a poem about life. What did I know about life then? I had watched with some frustration my grandfather impose a sort of self exile when he moved to Florida to grow old away from his family because he thought that’s what he should do after he retired.
Many years passed since I thought about this poem, and it was about 20 years after I had written it that Joanne found it on a well-folded piece of paper in a box of stuff I have. In the spirit of Auld Lang Syne, and in a positive way, a hopeful way, I would like to share this poem with you this month.
As I See Life
February 4, 1976
When you’re old and past your prime you’ll spend your days remembering a time when you were young and new at the game of life. Yes you were young and the world was too. Everything there just waiting for you.
Meet a girl and fall in love and thank Almighty God above. You take her as your loving wife and vow to share the stress and strife that will come in later life.
Go to war to keep people free. What you fight for you can’t see.
Come home and get a job, work day and night long and hard so that someday your kids can have it a better way.
Buy a house, a dog, a car, want your kids to go real far. You tell them to make you proud and remind ‘em of it often and loud.
Finally you work your way up higher then they tell you it’s time to retire. “But my body is strong, my mind is still keen. Though my reflexes have slowed most all I have seen.
Well they give you a dinner and they say goodbye, give you a gold watch and you start to cry when you think, where did the time fly?
Kids are all grown, they even have a few of their own.
It’s just you and your wife living day to day when all of a sudden she passes away. Your heart is broken and you stand alone. Sell your house and the kids put you in a home.
All the dreams you once knew now have no time to come true. Now you realize, but it’s too late, the things in life to appreciate.
A sad thing happens at this stage, from being made useless and lonely, you die of old age.
While it ends on what seems like a sad note, my sentiments when I wrote it were to serve as a lesson about what not to do…and what was not going to happen to me. I ask you to view it the same way you may think of the Ghost of Christmas Future in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. You have the ability to make change in your lives as well as the lives of others. Make the most out of that little dash and stretch it out!
Retirement, while often dreamed and planned for, is not always a perfect end to a perfect career. In fact, I cannot picture myself retired one day. If l’m lucky, I will always want to make some kind of contribution to the work force, maybe volunteer and keep busy for mind, spirit and body. My dad is an accountant and he still has a small client base, which includes my businesses. He keeps up with the courses and new technology, and stays active.
He visited me at my office the other day, and as always, I was happy to see him. While the phone was ringing, I answered emails and did my thing. My dad was busy doing the monthly sales tax report and reading at a conference table in my office. We chatted between calls and customers coming in.
At one point seeing how busy I was, he asked if he could help me with anything. But just by being there, he already was! Just looking at him working at the table, my mind drifted back to a time when he took me to work with him. He gave me paper and pencils, and I sat at a desk near his while he seemed so busy working and writing numbers, and I remember asking him if I could help him, too. Just being there with him was all the help he needed. I think if you can work with your dad at any point in time, doing and sharing anything, that’s a great thing to do.
I’m going to dash off now, but first I want to send my very best wishes to you and your loved ones for a blessed holiday and a healthy, joyous and prosperous new year.
Jack Guarnieri started servicing electro-mechanical pinball machines in 1975 and has been involved in every phase of the amusement game business since then. He was an operator in NYC, then began a distributorship in 1999, PinballSales.com, selling coin-op to the consumer market. In January of 2011 he founded Jersey Jack Pinball (named after his RePlay Magazine pen name), which builds award-winning, full-featured, coin-op pinball machines. Email Jack at [email protected] jerseyjackpinball.com.