Milestones

I was surprised to receive a message from WordPress recently in which they congratulated me on passing the 100 posts published mark. This was not something I had been monitoring nor setting a target to reach but I was both pleased with myself on one hand for having reached that number and a little annoyed on the other that I hadn’t posted more by now. That is the problem with milestones, they come in many flavours. I thought to myself, interesting things milestones, so here are a few of my views on milestones.

Milestones are an exclusively human trait or so one would think. I have no way of validating that claim of course but I doubt any other species in the myriad sentient lives that share this beautiful green planet monitor their lives with milestones. That is what milestones are of course, ways of monitoring progress. They came into existence centuries ago as as way for travellers to know how far they had to go to reach the next town or conversely how far they had come from the last town. They were stones with the count of miles etched onto them, hence milestones. We now use this principle of measuring progress by applying virtual milestones along our journey of life.

Most milestones are usually never to be repeated, a signpost to the end of one part of the journey and the start of another. Achievements like reaching a hundred posts on our blog, number of likes on our social media postings, dollars in the bank. Birthdays are an obvious one and they can mean more than an age reached. Old enough to leave school, old enough to vote, to join military service, to be sent to war, to marry, to retire. Earlier in life we measure a child’s progress by first steps, first baby teeth, weaned, potty trained, start kindergarten, start primary school, start secondary school, all milestones in the development through childhood.

All of these we see as milestones either to be achieved or celebrated,  but milestones aren’t always celebrations, they can be remembrances, like Armistice Day and Anzac Day. A stake in the ground at a particular point, in distance, or in time. A time when the world changed such as the start of the world wars and the end of the same wars. Some just fizzle out it seems like the Vietnam war, who remembers the date that ended? Or they start in a gradual way making it hard to measure them as milestones.

Many of our milestones are “firsts”, first kiss, first love, plenty of firsts but not many “lasts”. We don’t tend to celebrate the “lasts” in our life do we? I don’t know the exact date when I had my last cigarette but deaths, now there is a last one that we might recall, the last time I saw my Dad alive, or my Mum. Or my child, particularly relevant in the USA with all the school shootings. Now those lives lost are incredibly sad milestones which a lifetime won’t heal.

Milestones mostly become simply a signpost as to how far along whatever particular journey you are on but they are essentially an indicator of the past, they are a “past time”. It is worth bearing this in mind if you are looking forward to a milestone with any sort of anticipation and attachment. Once it is reached it is already past.

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