Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Benjamin's Brilliant Insight

I returned to work yesterday and every time I take a day off, the song remains the same. For the first couple of hours, as different people walk past my door, there's a distinct tone of surprise when they say "oh, you're here..." in such a way that I wonder if there's not a pool in a back room somewhere with odds on my not coming back this time. And I'm calculating how empty someone else's life has to be for mine to be worth examining.

I got off to rousing lurch coming in as my car came up lame, with a flat tire, as I pulled out of the garage. After using one of those air compressors that's powered through the cigarette lighter (= very slow) I decided on the way home to stop in at the tire place where I bought them.

The shop shares a pad with a reasonable number of somewhat tired stores, many of whom are in need of a make over they'll never see in a mall that's immediately forgettable. Trust me on this, when you have the Norwichtown Mall as a frame of reference, you can smell failure at a mile or more and this strip mall is dogged out. It's across the interstate from another mall that was rebuilt not that long ago (at considerable expense) and basically brought back from the dead. The contrasts between them are startling and provoked me to think about the never ending discussions on economic development and reward versus risk where I live, as our municipal elections rapidly approach.

Despite the vitriol that service on our City Council seems to generate among so many of our residents, we are fortunate to have a pool of interested and talented people who are willing to serve. We need more of them, as do you, too, because it's the nature of life in these United States. No one has enough time and everyone needs help.

If you've ever had children in school, you already know about the PTO parents who were also the band parents who were also the class trip escort parents and who were the prom chaperons and that list goes on forever. It's true in municipal government as well. You see the same people at City Council meetings who attend Board of Education meetings (when they can figure out when and where those are held) and are the ones who offer to serve on a citizen committee of some sort or other. So many people in the same device.

We all pitch in and we all have folks with whom we get along better than others. I get concerned when so much time is devoted to tearing people down with whom we disagree. I just don't have the energy for all of that and it's hard for me to pretend that things I heard were NEVER said and vice versa. When the 'clown' (use a more colorful sobriquet of your choice in its place if you'd like) is in the State Capital or in Washington, it's easier than someone you see in the grocery on Saturdays. Besides I hate apologizing over the celery in the produce department, 'those things I said about your Mom and the 82nd Airborne? I'm pretty sure I didn't mean 'em.' Yeah, thanks, Dave.

I don't see the point to carrying around all the grudges and bruised feelings over slights (real and imagined) that keep us from starting again. Sometimes I'm concerned that the long, proud history of New England sometimes gets in our own way of trying new things and walking away from our past. How much of yesterday do we really need to overcome today in order to have a shot at a tomorrow that is large enough for us and our children and their children? As we travel through today, look around. Everything you pass was created as a result of choices made, good and bad; buildings, businesses, neighborhoods, families. We cannot go back but we cannot stand still. We can only go forward, together.
-bill kenny

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