It was five years ago (plus/minus) ten days, these attempted musings started to show up on the editorial page of the Bulletin. For those unhappy at that development, I will offer no apologies but suggest, rather, you consider blaming a Literacy Volunteer.
I spent some quality time over the weekend, after helping Jack London build a fire, in looking back at some of the first words I ever offered in this space.
When I read them now, I'm disappointed because I don't sound more prescient, or taller though the mirror suggests I'm far greyer and a lot less hopeful.
I'm not the wide-eyed optimist that I once was and have ruefully come to accept that being a pessimist means you can only be surprised but never disappointed. Mainly I was struck by how little everything and everyone seems to have changed, though I'm hoping your mileage may vary. Read for yourself:
"Is this the year we start to finally change Norwich back into a place where our adult children will want to come home to, or from which all who have the wherewithal to leave, will flee with a haste that borders on the unseemly as a retreat becomes a rout?
"Pardon an outsider’s observation, and after all these years I concede that for many, I’m still NFH (Not From Here), but we don’t know how we got here, and, more importantly are unwilling to work together to get to where we want to go.
"We need to stop waiting for Hartford, which is politically and financially exhausted, or for Washington, D. C., which is too far away, even more broken and has too many of its own problems, to ‘save’ us.
"And we need to finally wake up from the recurring dream we have of finding that one big development project that will transform the three rivers upon which we were founded into flowing honey and the falling raindrops (and snowflakes) into gumdrops.
"The only help we can count on, and should, is the assistance we give to ourselves. If we're looking for a helping hand, look no further than the end of each of your arms-that's two and that's a start. If you join hands with those of your neighbor, we have an initiative--and if three of us work together, it’s a movement.
"Every person, every building, every block and every neighborhood, one community. We've seen the hard way what working to benefit only ourselves has gotten us--a society of sharpened elbows and people not afraid to use them. Many have stopped trying and so we have to pick them up as we take ourselves along to where we need to get to in order to rebuild and rediscover the spark in the dark that made us who we are.
"I've always suspected had the Native Americans who greeted the Pilgrims realized their guests were not going to assimilate or be interested in learning very many of their hosts' customs, that first Thanksgiving meal might have been more 'to go' than John Alden and Miles Standish could stand.
"But what were their choices, and what are ours? It's not ever easy, and it's not instant, but we're not in this life, or nation, or circumstance, alone. And we can do this-because, when you get through with all the platitudes, because we have no choice. You're burning daylight, sitting here reading this, my friend. The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on (January 27, 2010)."