August 6, 2013

Mile marker on old railroad trail.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Milestones.  Mile markers.  Birthdays.  Holidays.  Anniversaries.   Contracts.

All of these are ways in which we take stock of from where we have come, where we are, and perhaps, where we are going.  They are to be looked forward to, cursed, remembered, and sometimes paid off and/or forgotten.  Some seem to last forever-others are a bit of ash in the wind.

For instance, I was on my way to work one day in the late 80’s and I had an epiphany.   Before going any further, it is important to note that I was married at the time, had a child, a mortgage, life insurance, and a car payment.  By all the standard measures of American culture, including my age, I would have been considered an adult.  The key is that those are external measures and speak not at all to a way of thinking.  Here is my point:  a Dunkin Donuts was just off to my right and a seriously electrifying thought hit me – “I could stop and buy a donut if I wanted.”  As a result, oddly, at that exact moment, I consciously knew and acknowledged that I was an adult.  I actually felt it.  The physical sensation, which I now understand to have been a result of dopamine and norepinephrine being released in my brain, lasted but an instant.  The perception, the meaning which I attached to the feeling, has been with me since.  No, I did not make the turn into the parking lot.  (Being able to delay gratification, now that is a real sign of an adult.)

It is actually with more than a bit of embarrassment that I relay that story and it speaks volumes about my way in the world up to that point.  It was remarkable moment, though, and clearly remembered for over 25 years.   The recognition of freewill and the ability to direct one’s own life is quite powerful, and, as the saying goes, comes with great responsibility.  (Which, of course, is a line delivered with high drama by both Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and by Peter Parker’s uncle in Spiderman.)

And taking personal responsibility for the conduct of one’s own life is something which folks do to a greater or lesser degree as the years mount.

Take care.