The Importance of Milestones and a Really Good Story

November 28th – this week – marked a milestone for me. It seems that the three years between 28/11/98 and 28/11/01 have flown by. I recall vividly my leaving the safe and predictable routine of six months of hospitalisation to return to the real world. A hobbling return to my flat, negotiating stairs and then the strangely unfamiliar surroundings of a once familiar world – my home.

I spent the best part of 1999 regaining strength, scouring the web for more information on my condition and disability. I was also on a look-out for more advanced orthotics.

On Nov 3rd , 1999, I scaled my first ‘real’ mountain – returning to the 4095m Mt Kinabalu in East Malaysia – and refusing, as in my past life, to choose the easy option. Here, our small team hauled packs with tents, ropes and climbing gear, eschewing the luxury of the resthouses en route. Here, amidst the granite pinnacles and windswept summit plateau, I felt at home. Descending, I fell twice with my large pack and took twice the ‘normal’ time to get back to the Park headquarters. All good, hard fun.

What kind of impact do such milestones make in our lives? Too often, the dates in our diary which we mark out are merely birthdays we celebrate with our family and friends.


Take time out, make a note of some significant milestones in your life, even the sadder ones. Pay tribute to loved ones long gone; a special date in your professional or personal life. Look back, reflect – press on with the new found strength, convictions and experience


I received this story via e-mail and decide to share it here:

“A wise woman who was travelling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveller who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveller saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveller left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. “I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”


Just how valuable is self-cognizance? In my daily work, I meet so many stressed and overworked people who have stopped to think about what life and work means to them. They remain unhappy and unfulfilled – seeking the valuable ‘ stone’ of life – but missing the point about why they wanted to go there in the first place. Be touched in this festive season – look into those kinder and gentler and ask why they are the way they are. I know I will.