Since before antiquity, we clever humans have been marking our progress on life’s rocky road with actual stones. These physical, durable, reassuring (Yes, you’re on the right track!) mile markers have always been installed to indicate for us travelers how far we’ve come on our journey and how much farther there is to go.
Figurative — non-physical – milestones, too, serve the same purpose, I feel. Big birthdays, especially ones with zeroes in them, and anniversaries, especially where silver or gold are given as gifts, are major milestones, marking a significant life attainment, something to be honored and celebrated.
Turning seventy, for me, for example, was not just a milestone, it was a turning point. At that point seven years ago I decided not only to retire but to retire to Mexico, a neighboring country I hardly knew, to begin a new life near the end of my life in a sunny, less-stressful, very old and proud land. I count this decision among the best I’ve ever made. I’ve never looked back.
Today’s WOW blogpost also marks a milestone. This is my 400th post since my blog’s inception in May 2014, and in these ensuing eight years my WOWs have received close to 100,000 views. Reaching this mile-marker now, I must stop a minute, take a breath, look around, and think: How did I get here? And how much longer is the road ahead?
Writing this weekly blog has been a pleasure, especially because it’s helped me stay in touch with friends far and wide, old and new, and make new friends in the process. It’s been my way of reaching out and embracing like-minded people all over the world and hearing back from them in the Comments. It’s been a large part of an ongoing sense for me of a global community.
It’s also been liberating: Since no one pays me, I’m free to write from my heart whatever I feel inspired to write each week, on subjects mostly of interest to older women like myself, under the general heading, “news, views, reviews and interviews worth factoring into your life.”
And what I write is free for the taking. There’s no subscription fee. It’s clearly not a commercial enterprise, and that makes me happy. No monetary strings are attached. In my experience, money muddies things.
Writing these WOWs has also given me a sense of purpose. As a lifelong writer, I feel I’ve been given a voice – a voice for the voiceless, in some respects. I used to think that books would be the best vehicle for this, so I wrote and published five of them. But in recent years, alas, books have fallen from their former vogue.
As Nicholas Carr writes in his bestselling book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains — which I highly recommend:
“As screens command more of our attention, less remains for everything else. Quieter, more solitary pastimes – reading for pleasure, notably – continue to be the most vulnerable to being crowded out by digital diversions.”
Carr adds, “There are still plenty of readers around, but curling up with a book is losing its place in the general culture. It’s becoming a quaint pursuit, like ballroom dancing or darts.”
So, since long-form (book) reading is rapidly going out of fashion, I’ve turned to a short-form of writing – blogging, a peculiar term I can barely define. To me, what I do in my WOW posts is more like cooking: Taking the time to prepare what I hope will be a body-and-soul-nourishing little meal for others, and inviting them to come and dine each week. Mine is not a fancy “restaurant,” just a little bistro with a limited menu. But everything is made with thought and care. Thoughts as food.
How much longer will I do this? As long as I can, I think. I’ll keep looking for those “sermons in stones” that spark ideas each week. I hope to keep going until I get to that final milestone clearly marked, “The end of the line.”