I almost didn’t get my paycheck for the Mega Cebu vlogging contest last week because of the useless hyphen hanging in my family name. Thanks to fill-in forms that won’t accept symbols, the check issued bore a name that is contradictory to the name stipulated in my ID. Good thing the attendees were friendly and accepted the explanation I have given (but asked me to present three other valid IDs). This then led me to question the value of this symbol tagged along with me since the day I was born.
For two consecutive months, I have spent my weekends with kdrama, books, and blog updates. Instead of venturing into the outdoor, I suddenly felt the urge to stay at home and procrastinate. Many found this unusual for I am someone who’d definitely won’t miss a weekend without traveling. During these times I as able to revisit the photos taken during the past travels and began to write about them – the reason behind the successive entries. And in writing them, I have realized how fond I have become with the use of hyphens.
While these hyphens (or technically called as em dash) are used as alternative for semi-colon, parenthesis, or commas, depending on how they are used, their main function settles in making the sentences more cohesive by putting together ideas that link with each other and can only be understood when placed on a single sentence. Most importantly, they are used when you want to emphasize something. Emphasis. Value. Importance.
I once read on a Tumblr post that our lives are composed of two dates and a hyphen. It is engraved in our soon-to-be epitaphs. A lot maybe said about us on the day that we’ll die, but the most important thing embodied there, is the line that separates the day we were born and the day we die – the life that we have lived. How you lived. How you mattered. How you contributed for the betterment. Essential questions that is summarized on a single line separating your first and last breath. A gentle reminder that somehow, you existed, you mattered.
I looked at the numbers printed on the paycheck and the name bore above it. Mostly we have come to focus on the numbers presented to us – age, salary, savings, time, and dates – not knowing that these are just a spec in comparison to the vastness of experiences, pains, victories, and learnings encapsulated on a small line. I looked at my family name again and couldn’t be anymore complaining of the gentle reminder to live and make the best of my remaining time.
PS. There’s actually an appropriate term for every kind of line that we see on sentences; and mind you, they even differ in sizes. Dash, hyphen, em dash, and em line. I just used “hyphen” here so as to make the point of the essay coherent. Thanks for understanding. And I hope you’re making the most of the line in between the two important dates of your life. See you on trails!