You know those little vertical signs on the side of the road with the numbers —right? The signs have numbers every mile to indicate the distance you have traveled on the interstate highway.
It’s really difficult to know whether the proper focus should be on how far you have traversed, or how much farther there is to go.
They don’t tell you anything, but which mile you are passing in your journey, rather than possibly more helpful data that you are on mile 37 out of 722 if you continue on the same road to its conclusion at the state line.
Now that the majority of the population has smart phones with GPS capability, you can pretty much disregard those old analog signs on the road, because your phone will show you where you are very precisely on a map, and even give you an estimate of how long it will take to get to your destination.
All of that is very helpful if you know exactly where you are going. If your journey is a little different, things could get more complex.
In early March, a new project came my way in the form of journaling. It is a daily exercise and does not take as much time as I thought. Most things don’t, once engagement is complete. It is usually the worrying over a matter, which adds the most time to a project rather than doing the thing.
After almost four months of journaling, there have been 4 to 5 days in which it was not possible to get it done. If this were a graded project, it would have to be rendered somewhere close to a high A. This is not about self-congratulation, however, but the perspective gained in a process.
In the early years of my career, it was my privilege to work with my dad. In the urgency of my youth, I would present him with things requiring what in my estimation called for immediate action, and he would wisely take them under consideration and assign appropriate urgency to the matters.
I would try to roust him and point out how much there was to be done with a vein popping out the side of my neck. He would calmly reply that all any of us needed to do was to look back and see how much had been accomplished.
You see, he was good at knowing which mile marker we were at, and how many we had passed without needing to focus on how many were ahead of us.
My brief journaling exercise has provided the same context. Some days a look back reveals more than a peering into the great unknown of the future.
Whichever mile marker you are on today, I hope it gives you peace and rest. If not, take a look at where you’ve been and see if it provides some encouragement.