I came across an Internet aphorism this weekend that I thought sounded as if it could have been written about revitalization efforts here in Norwich but it could be applied to any number of cities because we're a big country with many shared struggles that we tend too often to battle in secret.
"If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere."
It seems to me that we may each be adrift in our solitary boats, but it's a large ocean and our continued fearing and avoiding of risk means sacrificing any possibility of a reward. It is of course true that if we don't do anything, about downtown, about the stagnation of the Grand List, or the challenges facing our schools, we cannot do anything wrong.
But, and sorry if this upsets fans of the status quo, we cannot be surprised when we don't get rewarded for chances we never took and opportunities we ignored. Our lives, as individuals and as residents, are the sum of the consequences of both the things we do and those things we choose to leave undone.
Having lived here in the Rose of New England for nearly a quarter of a century, I'm a thorn I suspect for residents, both long-term and less than that, who are most comfortable while Waiting for Godot and waiting for someone, anyone, to appear who will rescue them.
Cynic that I am, I endorse a notion that agrees we need fundamental change in our city, our State, etc, just as long as you leave my life alone. George Bernard Shaw once offered that "Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their mind cannot change anything."
As yet another budget deliberation cycle draws to a close all we seem to have learned is what we already knew (or should have known): we cannot keep doing what we have always done and expect a different outcome. The difference between a rut and a grave is too often only the depth. If we can agree on nothing else, we should and must remember an admonition of John F. Kennedy's, "...Those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
Each of us is quick to tell our elected representatives what we believe our city's priorities should be, sometimes in loud voices (surely only for emphasis). Those assessments are always reflections of our own perceptions of reality and in all cases, your mileage may vary.
It's time we face up to a truth that's a truism: if we want to accomplish and achieve something different than before then we must do something we have never done before. This is our moment to seize or to rue that we failed to.