Friday, January 28, 2011
The Importance of Milestones
The walk to work is not bad, when the weather is good. On the other hand, the walk home from the supermarket (which is actually shorter) is not good at all.
It's not just that coming home from the supermarket I generally have a heavy load to carry. It's that C____ Street is a long straight street with no landmarks or milestones, just one anonymous side lane after another. It's possible to get a third of the way along and feel as if you haven't made any progress at all. Only at the very end do the landmarks pop up: The Water District, the Nursing Home where my mother stayed for four months following her amputation, the church; but all of these are right next to each other. Once the stoplight starts to come within range, you can measure your progress and I know that I'm getting close to home. But that doesn't happen until the walk is nearly over.
By contrast, the walk to the college is filled with landmarks, milestones, stages. W_____ Avenue starts with two gentle curves; S & C's house is at the apex of the first. Beyond the second, a stoplight comes into view at the intersection of W_____ Avenue and First Rangeway, which I cross, and start up to the top of a small hill that marks the halfway point of my journey. The avenue is quite narrow at this point, but just beyond the hilltop it takes a sharp right turn into what I think of as a funnel and then suddenly opens up for two-lane traffic. A short walk down to M______ H_____ Drive, then I turn left and start up the broad curving slope that ultimately takes me to the campus.
Humans need to know that they are making progress when they take on a task. That's what milestones are for. Without them, it's a long slog in darkness.