If my English teachers from school knew I was about to write an article on dangling participles they would probably die from laughter. They were generally thrilled if I simply knew the difference between a noun and a verb. So I caution you up front; this is NOT an English lesson. It is about succeeding at something that truly matters. Your life.
In short, a dangling participle is a modifier without a subject. An example would be:
“Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.”*
‘Hopefully’ is a dangling participle in the previous sentence. I don’t really mean tomorrow is hopeful it will be better. It is I who hopes tomorrow will be better. Yet, in the sentence, the subject (‘I’) is absent.
Many of us are living as dangling participles. We are hoping tomorrow will be a better day, but we leave ourselves out of the equation. We feel it is dependent upon ‘tomorrow’, our circumstances, opportunities, luck and coincidences. In placing our dependence on those things, we become absentee participants in our own future. We have delegated our responsibilities and have undermined our ability to make choices that will insure that tomorrow is indeed better.
“The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today.” – Seneca
In other words, you can long for a better tomorrow or you can choose your tomorrow by what you do today. However, many of us fail to make that choice because we just expect that somehow it will get better. We will get our break. Things will change and we will get our chance. Day after day we become more despondent because we are expectant rather than proactive.
Being a dangling participle devastates our standing, power and ability to achieve our goals. We belittle the reality of the impact our actions have on the future we get to experience. We become victims to the day tomorrow hands us rather than choosing today the parameters to which tomorrow must adhere.
I am hopeful tomorrow will be better because of the choices I made today! I choose to do what is right. I choose to learn. I choose to grow. I choose to exercise a contemplative mind and an open heart. I CHOOSE!
Therefore, tomorrow will be better or worse as a direct result of the choices I made today.
I refuse to be a dangling participle. I will be a proper subject; active and present in the determination of tomorrow.
My name is Warren Martin. And I am hopeful of a better tomorrow because of the choices I made today.
How about you?
* Apology. I realize there may be some grammarians reading this article that are objecting to my usage of ‘hopefully’ as a dangling participle (among a slough of other grammatical errors in the piece). There is a controversy among grammarians, with some holding the view that ‘hopefully’ in this case is in fact a disjunct and not a dangling participle. I will simply say that if that is your concern with this article, then you missed the point. Read it again! It is NOT an English lesson, but a life thought meant to challenge you to be present in the choices you make today! So, if you are a grammarian, make a choice not to waste your time correcting my grammar (my English teachers gave up on me years ago), and just spend some time thinking about the point of the article. Thanks.
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About Warren Martin
WARREN MARTIN is a philosophy graduate of Texas Tech University. He is an author, teacher, minister, artist, quasi-philosopher and speaker known for his unique teaching style. His passion is to share the grace of Christ and to inspire & invest in the next generation of leaders. Learn more here...
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