I’ve never much liked milestones. I know some people love them, live by them, use them to congratulate themselves on their accomplishments and admonish themselves to work harder in the future. Milestones to me mark one thing: the passing of time. And time is one of those few things I can’t control in my life. My mother’s retirement, my son’s departure from primary school, my husband’s first grey hair, his last brown hair. (My hair has miraculously gone blonde!) Last month, I got my first pair of reading glasses. Most of the people I tell this to have no sympathy for me, after all, I’ve had perfect vision for almost half a century.
When I was twenty-three and teaching high school, I was pretty sure if I wore glasses the kids would shut up and listen to me, so I bought one of those fake pairs. For the hour I wore them, it didn’t help. Alas. And the lenses became smudged and couldn’t come clean. That was it for that.
But now I have reached that milestone and find myself trying on 1.25 reading glasses any time I can find them in the checkout line. I need a pair by my computer, next to my bed, by the kitchen table, and in my purse for menus. And they are always smudged.
For me, this is significant. I cannot go back. Working harder won’t help me here. I didn’t do anything to get me to this place. Out of my control, it caused me severe panic for about three weeks. But it’s starting to settle in. I’m starting to accept this as a milestone, and maybe even like it. I find that it signifies for me an arrival, an organic movement into a place of experience and wisdom. Look at me. I wear readers. I’ve arrived.