Two-plus years of hard work at The Creative Circus in Atlanta armed me with a steel crowbar (i.e., a black portfolio case of sweat equity) able to pry open ad agency doors and begin life anew as a copywriter.
Gig number one was at Moss/Dragoti, a small shop housed on the 20th floor of the legendary DDB building on Manhattan's Madison Avenue. (Maxwell Dane, one of the three founders of DDB—along with Bill Bernbach and Ned Doyle, in 1949—still had an office on the 20th floor; like some Notre Dame football player leaving the locker room, I used to tap the nameplate on his door heading to my desk.)
The buzz of my first week included filling out forms, my first professional writing assignment (!), loving the hustle and bustle of New York, and a coworker handing me a sheet of paper with a short poem titled "The Dash," by Linda Ellis, printed on it.
It was a little corny, but it also engraved on my imagination a simple perspective.
Corny sometimes sticks because m-dashes and n-dashes continue to play a dual role for me as both punctuation and reminders—reminders to keep working and praying and playing to make my life's story meaningful.