Life is full of milestones. These are the moments that mark the beginning and end of eras. Graduations, marriages, jobs, accomplishments, discoveries, etc. When we look back we build our memories on top of our milestones. We see in part: first we see the milestone, then we begin to recall the steps that got us there. It rarely ever happens the other way around.
An Olympic gold-metalist would not look back and first remember the training, the flight to the Olympics, the opening ceremony, the preparations, the waiting, the race, and then the awards ceremony. They would first remember the gold metal being placed around their neck, then, from there, they’d remember the inches by which they won the race, then battle during the race, then shot of the starting gun, etc. Piece by piece they’d put together the steps that got them atop that podium, but they would mark those memories by that milestone.
Milestones are important because they help us to remember not just one moment, but entire eras. If milestones did not exist we’d have nothing by which to mark our memories. Without milestones our memories would be like slips of paper in a raffle basket. We’d reach in pull out a random thought never knowing how it was connected with our other memories. We’d hold up that random thought and wonder about its significance without ever finding its true value.
Milestones bring significance. They bring hope, encouragement, and purpose. They remind us of sacrifice, endurance, patience, adventure, joy, beauty and risk.
Milestones help us to recall the journey.
Last night I experienced a milestone. My car reached 200,000 miles at 8:15 pm next to the Strausstown/Route 183 exit off of route 222. I watched with anticipation as the all 6 numbers transformed before my eyes from 199,999 to 200,000. It was a beautiful sight, and as I thought about it was as if I slowly drifted back into time. Suddenly I could remember so much more than I ever remembered about the adventures my car had brought me on. I remembered commutes, explorations, friendships, blown out speakers, flat tires, icy roads, summer nights, and conversations.
It was a milestone that marked the end of one era and the beginning of the next while at the same time filling all the spaces in-between.