The thing about progress is that it is very hard to see progress in any one moment. Today we are where are…and we experience what we see, feel and hear. We seldom sit in a particular moment and compare back to similar moments in our past. But it is only when we make such comparisons that we are able to appreciate just how far we have come and how amazing the journey has been.
Moreover, as we begin to recognise a series of comparable moments over time…we begin to contemplate where they indicate we could get to, what we may achieve, and how we may feel.
But to make such assessments of progress we need something against which we can compare today’s experience. Well that’s OK. We are scientists after all – we always collect and keep data…don’t we? And we are people after all – we take and keep photographs…don’t we?
But then there are events in our lives that are of such significance; moments of such magnitude that we remember them in minute and precise detail today as if they happened today…rather than a year ago. Or two years ago.
Two years ago today we left my daughter at University for the first time – her first year. We were all there. We all drove there together. We drove home apart. Even now I can feel the emotion…I feel emotional even thinking about that day. That Sunday. A day I won’t forget.
One year ago today we left my daughter at University for the second time. I drove there. Everyone else flew. I can remember everything we did; I can feel the emotion. But as I compare…I recognise how different it felt. More excitement. Less worry (well a little less anyway). So much pride. So much love. How difficult it was again to close the car door and drive off with her waving.
And today we left my daughter at University for the third time. She flew there by herself last week. I drove yesterday and my wife flew yesterday. My son stayed home. We all (including my son) had a wonderful weekend. We laughed and told stories. We built wardrobes. We arranged rooms. We went shopping. We ate pasta. We drank prosecco.
My wife flew home this morning. Smiles, hugs, kisses and tears. I set off to drive back after lunch. That was still the hardest part. My daughter waved. I wiped my eyes. I had to leave. Tears of pride and joy, wonder and amazement. Tears of love.
I found myself thinking about progress as I hit the main road out of town…I forced myself to think about progress as I hit the main road out of town. And as I did, I recognised that we have all come a very long way in only two years. Today was an emotional day for everyone. The emotions are strong but the emotions are different. There is less anxiety. There is more excitement.
Excitement that comes from recognising progress. Excitement comes from the anticipation of what is to come. Of what is possible. Of how it will feel. Excitement for all of us…but especially – this weekend – for my daughter.
And as I drove, and as I thought, my mind wandered and wondered about progress in other areas. Areas where I know I don’t have such a solid memory of events to compare against. But areas where an assessment of progress would be good to do. At work. At home. Personally.
I stopped thinking and started talking. I called my wife. My son. My daughter. My sisters. My brother. My dad.
I felt better.