Extending Dash/Plus

Joshua Ginter shared his wonderful review of my Dash/Plus system with me earlier today. It’s great and you should check it out. He even covers the Dash/Plus app a bit too.

Yet, he ultimately decides it won’t work for the way he takes notes. Mainly because of a couple of things my original system doesn’t address. He states:

Much of the jargon scribbled across my books are semi-coherent thoughts which merely record my thinking at that point in time. They don’t necessarily need action or fit within a simple or defined list system.

And that’s true. The system as I first conceived it did not take such things into consideration. That was even a hole that affected me for a while. So, over a year ago, I added a couple of new metadata items to cover exactly that for me.

  • Idea — I change the dash into a lightbulb.
  • Diary/Thought — I change the dash into an asterisks.

I’ve been doing this for a long while and just never bothered to share this tweak with the rest of the world. The reason: It never really occurred to me that it might be useful to others. Crazy, I know.

The thing is that the Dash/Plus system is such a natural part of the way I work that I forget that other people use it as well. It is like breathing or blinking. Consciously, I know I do it and that others do it as well but I’m not really aware I’m doing it until I stop to think about the fact I am.

Here’s the other thing: I kind of expect that someone will take the basics of the Dash/Plus system and extend and change it in ways that work for them. Please do. I welcome it. Even better if you write about it and let me know what you’ve done so I can share it with others. I’m sorry I failed to do so myself until now.


I blew on you
And it gave you lift
And you rose
I had sent you flying
And you floated
And twisted
And rocked
Back and forth
Soon to be caught up
In another breeze
A current
A channel
From somewhere
Perhaps from the winter
Turning violently into spring
Or a butterfly
The flapping of its distant wings
No matter now
For what I once held
Delicately in my hand
Is now beyond
My outstretched grasp
And I watch
As you gently leave
My breath had lifted you up
Let you go
And set you free.

The Only Answer

There are two essential questions that drive every human being:

Is this all I am?

Is this all there is?

The most feared answer to both of those questions — the one we refuse to accept:


The answer we want to believe and that drives us to push harder, dig deeper, keep searching, and achieve things once believed impossible. The answer that has led to every discovery and breakthrough. The one that is at the center of every faith. The one that makes us human:


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