A great word, one that dates back to 1750 or thereabouts. I can picture a stone beside the road, one for every mile, as the horse and/or carriage rumbles by. Then I think of how the word came to mean something big and important.
The World English Dictionary definition:
1. a stone pillar that shows the distance in miles to or from a place
2. a significant event in life, history, etc
And hey, I never thought of the mile marker as being a pillar. Why isn't it called a milepillar then? Oh. Well. Maybe because it looks and sounds ridiculous??
In any case, my milestone:
Today is one year since I quit smoking. One long, agonizing, brutal, insane, astonishing, I-can't-believe-I-did-it, feat of endurance against all odds using sheer bloody will power. Yes, thank you...I appreciate the applause and those pats on the back.
I have (had) this one habit, the hardest thing for me to overcome when I stopped smoking. It's when I'm writing. I could be madly typing away, thoughts flowing as I work, then run out of steam and have to stop to think. My usual method at this point was to take a break, light up that cigarette and walk around outside while I huffed and puffed until suddenly the chain of events, the perfect word, the exact sentence I was fumbling for, would unfold in my mind. Every time. No, seriously. EVERY time. Maybe the nicotine spurred me on, or the mix of oxygen and poison stirred my brain. I don't know. What I do know is, it always worked.
After I quit, when I would hit a snag in my story, I would automatically reach for a smoke, then stop in horror as I realized my muse, my brain starter, my story maker, was gone forever. Even now, a year later, when I can't pull a thought together, I want a cigarettte to help me clarify. I have tried many substitutes: I've sucked on toothpicks, Tootsie pops, straws, cinnamon sticks...nothing works. Nothing stimulates my little gray cells except that demon weed. I pace from one end of the house to the other, sometimes to no avail; nothing comes to me, my brain is quiet.
I guess the tradeoff is that at least now I have my lungs back, no more wheezing or shortness of breath, I'm healthy, smell like a woman instead of a stinky late night dive bar, and have no doubt my quality of life has been restored. A good thing, for sure.