July 2013


Milestones

23 July 2013
23:38 EDT (-04:00 GMT)

For centuries, we have placed rocks in strategic places along the highways and byways crisscrossing our continents like so many spider veins on an octogenarian's body. Because these markers delineated the mileage to and from key cities or junctions, in the 1750s, someone had the bright idea to call them milestones, and ever since, parents have been able to tell their children exactly how far they have left to go or have gone on their vacation when they are asked that infamous question ad nauseam, "are we there yet?"
 
In more recent times, some MBA type (to be sure) had the even brighter idea to refer to the key moments in our lives or the lives or our programs as milestones. It makes sense when you think about it. These are moments in your life that took you time to reach, whether it be training for a marathon, graduating college, or getting married. They are defining moments that allow you to see how far you've come or, in some cases, how far you have left to go. We all set milestones, even if not consciously. They are the goals we set for ourselves to help bring meaning and purpose to our lives.
 
Today we reached a significant milestone in our lives. We have been waiting almost 5 years for this moment, and finally it came. Like all great moments in life, as we approached it, time slowed, and we were able to savor in the moment, enjoying the pomp and circumstance surrounding the event. But, like all great moments in life, once it was over, time accelerated back to normal speed, and we were whipped along the temporal current like flotsam in the ocean. Just like that, it was gone, a mere moment in our lives, a distant memory even as we left the courthouse to go celebrate.
 
That's the funny thing about milestones. We lay them down on the path we traverse from womb to tomb and note them on our calendars. Each evening we tick off the day and note how much closer we are to the goal, not unlike the forlorn prisoner marking his cell wall, scratching off the days until his release (another milestone in and of itself). Yet, when we reach that spot on the road of life, we pull off onto the shoulder for the slightest amount of time; then, we we get back in the car and continue on the journey. Now focused on the next milestone, few bother to peak in the rearview mirror to catch the last fleeting glimpse of the previous milestone as it slips below the horizon and is gone forever.

Today was no different. Even with the ceremony still fresh in our minds, we were already heading to the post office to submit paperwork for the next significant milestone in our lives together. And as we left the post office for Fogo de Chão, we were already discussing the next milestone. It never ends, these milestones. We're constantly setting milestone after milestone ad infinitum. And it seems that it's a good thing, otherwise we'd have nothing for which to strive.

And that's the crux of it. No matter how we mark the passing of the current milestone, it's important to stop for a moment and celebrate the simple fact that we have achieved a goal we set for ourselves, and we should reflect on the path to this milestone before carrying on to the next one without appreciating how we got to this one.

Although the pomp and ceremony of today's event will fade with time, and we will probably forget the date, we will never forgot that we reached this milestone, and whether we remember exactly where we placed it or not, there will always be a little stone with today's date etched into it sitting on the side of the path that we are traveling together.