As a graduate of St. John’s University, I recently became aware of Kurt Vickman’s commencement address given to the class of 2023. Himself a ’94 graduate of St. John’s, Kurt began his address by holding up a picture of him and his mother taken before her death at the age of 50 after a long battle with cancer.


Kurt had visited his mother’s tombstone earlier in the day and paid special attention to the dash that separated her date of birth from the date she passed away: 1971-2021.

“We have no control over the day we’re born,” he said to the graduates. “We have little or no control over the day we’re going to die. The only thing we have control over is that little, tiny, often over-looked and underestimated dash. And it’s within that little dash that we have to cram all our living and loving and giving and purpose and passion and relationships.

“The question becomes. What are you going to do with your dash? How are you going to harness the gifts and goodness that have been buried into the DNA of your design to be a force for good in the world? Start considering what troubles you, what keeps you up at night, what stirs you in the deepest kind of way. Use that to focus you to become the fuel behind being a force for good in the world.”

Kurt is calling on us to make our dash a manifestation of our best selves and a dash that makes the world a better place.

With my 76th birthday coming tomorrow, Kurt challenges me to decide what I want to assure takes place during my dash.

Reflection: What stirs you in the deepest kind of way?

Next week’s Wellness Wednesday will focus on one way of considering the value of our dash.

From our team…Willow, Kevin, and Tom…whose dashes have enhanced my dash.

Paul Bernabei
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