It starts the day we are born. That’s our birthday. Milestone one. Then our first step, first word, first day of school. Followed by many other markers of firsts. First love, first kiss, graduation (maybe another graduation) first job, first marriage (our last, if we’re lucky!), first child, first this and first that—and on and on ….
We keep track. Our biggest. Our best. Our first. Our last. If we live a long life, the milestones are simply stepping stones to get to the next milestone. Which is most important? Are any of them enough? Sometimes, yes. Other times, no. Milestones are markers of comparison. In and of themselves, rather meaningless. Except to us, individually.
How proud we are to announce our degrees and titles. How gregarious we become, surrounded by generations of family who know our achievements and look for the next accomplishment to paste into the scrapbook of Big Brag—or accept applause inside the indifferent corporations we work in that hoist us up higher than our egos dare dream. Whatever for? Why do we count the markers? Why do we display the trophies of triumph?
It’s a very human thing, these calculated steps and milestones. Without appreciation, and the representative awards, we don’t think we matter. We proudly announce how many days, weeks, years, of sobriety we have accomplished. We gleefully beat diseases and tick off the obstacles overcome. We blow out more and more candles to prove we’re still here. Is that what it’s all about? We beat the odds and we shout it out so others will aspire to our heightened level of achievement.
What about the kid who ditches diapers? “Look Ma, ‘big boy pants’!” a toddler squeals, delightedly. Yes. For that child, a milestone, albeit one that will be forgotten. The twenty-something year old woman who sails across an ocean alone will probably never forget that journey.
Every breath we take is a milestone for our overworked lungs. Every heartbeat is a milestone for another minute of life. Every blade of grass that survives the trampling of yet another indifferent individual can sway one more day in the warm winds of spring.
Milestones are subjective. What is important to you will not necessarily be important to me. But I’ll cheer for you, because that’s what we do. We clap. We smile. We wear the right colors on the right holidays and for the right parade to pass by your personal accomplishment made public display. We care for each other so that each other will care for us when it is our turn.
It’s a notch. It’s a way to keep track and transcend ordinary. If we don’t take a step we stay stuck. We have no where to go other than forward into the unknown and when we’re brave enough to do that we celebrate another stone stepped as a milestone. In truth, it is a mini-stone. A teeny tiny microscopic step to the next moment of miracle. It matters.
Keep stepping. You’re only a stone’s throw away from your next giant leap.