Replacing the Hyphen

Lately, I have become very suspicious of the hyphen (-). Free defines the hyphen as:


A hyphen () is used primarily to join two or more words to form a new, compound word or to provide clarity when using certain affixes (such as prefixes).

I believe the hyphen is being misused and may have been deceptively replaced with a minus symbol (-),whose insurgent intention is not to unite two words for clarity, but rather to subtract with negativity our very unity as a people.

When we hyphenate our language, do we bring together and unite with the clarity of our culture? When I identify as an ”X”-American am I putting my ”X”ness first and subtracting it somehow from my common nationality? Does this hyphenation make my difference stand out, segment me from the greater whole, and obtain a priority of attention? Does it subtract from my commonalities with other Americans?

If we value a United States of America and believe we are better as humans when we are united rather than divided, then why not replace our hyphens and place our unifying common word first? By replacing the hyphen after the most unifying word, I could shift my identification from male-American to American-male. You would see and say our common word first.

While it probably is going to shock many militant grammarians, maybe we need to give the hyphen or sneaky minus a usage pause for a while. Perhaps we should replace the hyphen with an additive plus symbol (+). This could add in our uniqueness of identification for clarity but not subtract out our common unity.

I hope we will realize there is no such person as “them.” We only have us. We could use more of us in the U.S. right now.

Sorry hyphen, I think we live in too divisive times to allow a negative minus imposter to subtract from our common interests. Your little dash keeps us apart instead of your defined purpose of connecting and unifying our language for clarity.

Just a suggestion from a concerned, Human+Being.

Where We Must Meet

The past me you remember

May or may not be true and recognizable

To the me you see right here.

A new me rises daily as do you.

While familiar, in this moment,

We remain mysteriously unknown

To each other and to ourselves.

Our future selves, unborn in tomorrow

Have endless opportunities for good first impressions.

But they have yet to arrive into being

And so are total strangers to us both.

Should we conspire to neither bring our mental scrapbooks

Of yesterday’s people who we are no longer,

We can welcome our discoveries;

Not remembering past pains

And judge us kindly companions

Worthy of sharing our journey through this day or hour.

As we are we cannot meet in past nor future.

We must choose to meet here and now.

It’s the only time we have,

If we are to ever meet at all.

Andy Dix

Little Glen Lake

Glen Arbor, MI


“American Idol” Makes Me Cry! (But in a Good Way)

“American Idol” has launched a new season on television. I need to put a box of tissue on my end table. Whenever I get sucked into watching an episode, I tend to cry. My leaky viewing is a great delight to my family, who enjoys poking fun at my sentimentality.

What Is Going On?

After dabbing my eyes and wiping my nose following an amazing Idol performance, I reflected on what was triggering my very emotional response. Was I just responding to the calculated manipulations of the show’s producers, or was something else causing my damp cheeks? I wasn’t feeling sad. My tears were not from joy. What about this vicarious experience was dredging up such a powerful response from me? I realized I could relate in some way with the contestants.

Remembering the Spotlight?

Once upon a time, I was a performer. I dreamed of being an actor and was cast in both community and school plays. I was a hack musician, who played trumpet throughout junior high and high school and later in a community swing band and in the praise band at a couple of churches.

As a school-based band member, I participated in many solo and ensemble competitions. At these competitions, I performed before a judge and was awarded medals for outstanding musical talent for the appropriate musical mastery based on my age/experience level. Contestants had the opportunity to advance beyond the local level and compete at a state competition. Standing in judgment after practicing for months is both nerve-racking and exhilarating. Waiting for the judge’s evaluation is deliciously painful in its anticipation. Getting a gold medal is rewarding. (I still have them all these years later.)

I remember the thrill of being the focus of attention as the spotlight blinded me. I cherished the feeling of affirmation, acceptance, and accomplishment, as an audience was entertained and applauded. All these feelings are touched again as I watch and empathize with the “American Idol” contestants. But there was more than just reminiscent empathy causing my reaction.

Appreciating the Impossible Dream

In the musical, “Man of La Mancha,” we get the classic song, “The Impossible Dream.” The lyrics say in-part, “To reach the unreachable star. This is my quest to follow that star. No matter how hopeless. No matter how far…” It’s the musical embodiment of what philosopher Joseph Conrad calls the “Hero’s Epic Journey.” It’s a story we each long to be courageous enough to travel, but few risks the trip.

Seeing the Idol contestants chase after impossible stardom, against all odds, is enchanting to watch. But what moves me to tears is not regretting not taking my own moment of fame, but by appreciating the courage it takes to overcome adversity, fear, doubt, and more, just for a chance to be judged worthy of being included in the episode, even if you don’t advance to Hollywood. Each singer must combat his/her internal fear dragon and find the breath to victoriously sing after their impossible dream. When they are amazing, it is truly legendary. Even the rejected have more guts than 99% of the critical viewers at home. They can say they did it and that they have no regrets for trying. That is what mainly brings me to tears. Seeing people succeed by realizing their own definition of success. They grab the impossible star for just one unforgettable moment. They truly live. It is so rare in today’s conformist society, that seeing it on my living room flat screen TV brings out the waterworks, as I celebrate their success, and mourn those who are too afraid to ever get off the very couch they may ultimately die on before they have ever lived.

Passing on Your Gifts

I believe we are each given specific gifts that are meant to be shared for the benevolence of other people. When you see someone, who has mastered the application of his/her gifts use them to their utmost, like a talented Idol hopeful, it is awe inspiring. We offer a standing ovation, or in my case a tear. We recognize the effort and practice it took to hone the skill. We appreciate receiving their gift. We are humbled by their superpowers that make it all look so easy and fun. We lie to ourselves saying, “I could never do that,” while our greatest gifts remain unused in a box marked “potential” and wrapped in shocking paper made of our most effective fears.

What is Your Impossible Dream?

Will you regret not chasing it? What if you chased it and failed? But more importantly, what if you chased it and held it for just a brief moment?

If you are ready to be epic, then get a tissue and let’s talk about your plan to take the journey of a lifetime. It’s the kind of travel planning an executive coach like me loves to do with all my heart.

OK, better make it two tissues…


If you would like to explore chasing your dreams, then let’s schedule a time to talk.  You can email me at  See more about how I help people like you at

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