a mark or stroke long in proportion to its breadth, made with a pen, pencil, tool, etc... but other definitions include a continuous extent of length or a number of persons standing one behind the other and waiting their turns at or for something or to take a position in a line, i.e. line up. Other meanings refer to your bloodline or lineage (where you came from) and possibly the 'line' of work that you are in. In the 60's, there was a TV show called "What's My Line?" where guest stars would ask questions of a guest as to what it was that they did for a living. It was funny to see the people and figure out what they chose to do with their lives, career-wise, sometimes being way out of character of what you'd expect at first glance.
There's little room on your tombstone to etch everything you were about as a person... what your likes and dislikes were... what you've accomplished in life... who you've left behind... what your trade was... or what you believed in, to name a few. You may get a fancy quote or a funny quip, but your whole life is represented by one character in between the date that you were born and the day you passed... a line. Everything from your first breath to your last is signified in that tiny mark... unlike the giant mark that you, hopefully, made on the world while you were alive. If you go back to the actual definitions, they coincide with that of a life; a mark (you making your mark on the world) long in proportion/a continuous extent of length (your life span) waiting their turns at or for something (your life process or, if religious, your afterlife). The question becomes... what will you do with your line?
We'd all like to think that we did some good with our time on earth and made some contribution to our fellow man. I think mine would be the things that I've built and those that I've loved. It brings me great pleasure to plant a tree knowing that it will be there for many years to come, providing shelter or shade and beauty... and it's roots securing and protecting the earth from being eroded away. I've had the opportunity to see some of those trees bloom into strong, towering structures some 40 years later and the decks that I've built still providing a center for the families that enjoy them. And I'd like to think that I've touched the lives of those near and dear to me. The help to my family... the comfort to my massage clients... the direction to my employees in my management roles... the protection and guidance to my friends... and the love shown in my relationships. And although it may be a source of frustration and, sometimes, angst... giving to those in my life has been what I feel my purpose has been. I define myself not by what I have, but what I have accomplished by helping others. That's what makes a man.
I may not have gotten done all the things that I set out to do in my life, and there may or may not be time to do those things... but I feel that my 'line' is pretty full of things that make me proud of who I am. I hope that my life never flat-lines... and that I constantly challenge myself and strive for more. Life is a gift...and there's no time like the present.
(Inspiration for this post was from the recent Glee tribute episode for Cory Montieth)