Milestones and A Measure of a Man


We all have them don’t we. Milestones along the way. Things we have done, achieved, earned. There are a number of milestones that we recognise, celebrate and appreciate.

The end of March represents something of a milestone for all of us. The first quarter of the year is finished. How has it been for you? How are you progressing towards the goals you set yourself for 2014?

As it happens March is a big month for significant milestones in our family. This year there were a couple of added extras that really got me thinking about the milestones in our lives. 

In a typical March our household recognises more than one birthday and a wedding anniversary. The sort of milestones that happen every year. This year as March unfolded I ended up being part of two other milestones, two days apart, that provided the catalyst to this blog. I attended a funeral and then a Graduation Ceremony. 

Milestones date back to very early times where, literally, large stones were placed at intervals ( a mile apart) along the road to mark the distance. A quick search provides a definition, or perhaps more appropriately an explanation, of a milestone for us : Milestones are constructed to provide reference points along the road. This can be used to reassure travellers that the proper path is being followed, and to indicate either distance travelled or the remaining distance to a destination. 

Are the milestones in your life “reassuring you that the proper path is being followed”?

Some milestones just happen. We have a birthday every year no matter what. They are good things to keep having!

Statistics tell us that wedding anniversaries don’t just happen “no matter what”. Yes – the date will be the same every year but you have to work at it to keep those being a celebration of something special . 

Obviously attending a funeral is the recognition of the end of the journey for one of us. It is a time of sadness but also a time to celebrate the life that has been. A time when the milestones along the way are recalled, recounted and reflected on. 

A Graduation is a different milestone. It recognises both an end and a beginning. The end of a period of study and learning and the beginning of a new chapter in your life. To me it differs from other milestones in that it is earned. It is the culmination of a journey. It is not something you can buy, or borrow, from someone else. It is something you work for; you earn. You are publicly recognised for your efforts in the Graduation Ceremony. Whilst it is nice to feel special on your birthday, the sense of satisfaction that I saw on the faces of the Graduates, and on the faces of their friends and family, had a whole different depth to it.

The combination of a beginning and an end is significant. 

A Measure of a Man

The definition of milestones makes reference to “the remaining distance to a destination”. What is the “destination” that the next milestone you will celebrate is part of the journey towards?

There are lots of things we set out to achieve in life. The theme of the speaker’s address at the Graduation Ceremony that I attended ( and I should know this because I was the speaker!!) was “You will know the answer to “What you are going to do?” but do you know the answer to “Who are you going to become?” Do you?

Let me leave you with the poem that was shared at the funeral I attended. It is called “A Measure of a Man” by Grady Poulard. I believe the use of the term “man” is not gender specific, it applies to us all.

The measure of a man is not determined by his show of outward strength

Or by the volume of his voice

Or by the thunder of his actions

Or of his intellect or academic abilities

It is seen rather in terms of the love that he has for his family and for everyone

The strengths of his commitments

The genuineness of his friendships

The sincerity of his purpose

The quiet courage of his convictions

The fun, laughter, joy and happiness he gives to his family and to others

His love of life

His patience and his honesty

And his contentment with what he has.