Patience is frustration. To be patient is to learn how to count to ten. Or twenty. Or ten thousand. To lose patience is, truly, a waste of time. It gets you nowhere to be impatient. You tap your toes and drum your fingernails and say why isn't this happening more quickly? Your head spins. You complain and wonder why people aren't moving along on your schedule. In the car, in the grocery line. Or in the case of my little place in the world, on a building that stands at the four corners of town.
Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project has taken on a large task. We have purchased an historic building with warped floors and moss on the porch roof. The building has sat empty for over a decade, collecting bird carcasses. Now the geezers in the diner are chewing their toothpicks and pointing fingers. "Yeah, we knew the building would still sit there. Nothing is happening."
If only the geezers could live my life for a day. Or the lives of the other eight board members of SSIRP. We are always on the telephone, or planning, or presenting our plan to someone, or tweaking budgets, or meeting twice and sometimes three times a week. We are told by the historic preservation folks that in order to get a substantial and deserved grant we must leave the paint alone, must let the moss lay on the roof. To make The Sherburne Inn "pretty" to appease our community is to put in jeopardy our grants, because the grant people have to know the building is in dire straits (which of course it is). Not only can we not paint trim on the windows, we cannot paint more than one trim on one window. We cannot repair a column. The building must remain in need, and when it does for months forward we will hear about it from the geezers. A major grant, nearly $500,000, has an application deadline of mid-July and an award date of October, at which time snow will probably start to fall. Actual funds will not be awarded until January 2014, meaning The Inn will sit as it has for another year. The geezers will trill, "You see? We told you so!" Therefore SSIRP must be patient, and within this patience we will need to brush off the geezer talk.
There is nothing we would rather do than paint the trim and wash the bricks. We want to repair the columns and do things we know will make the building beautiful again. We are talking with preservationists, meeting with preservation architects, who tell us what we already know: Don't touch anything. Take this step by step. You are doing the right thing, so far all of your steps are right. Be patient.
How hard it is to be patient and to ignore the chatter. How hard it is to be patient and shut down our ears to the pushy who want us to make quick progress that will hurt our prospects for grants that will help all of us...SSIRP and our community...ultimately succeed in economic development and a revitalization of downtown. How frustrating it is to listen to those who sip coffee on early diner mornings and pontificate without knowledge, pointing fingers and waiting to see this project fail. How unthinkable that leaders in this village tap toes and anticipate failure, all with some sort of twisted glee in thinking that an all night gas station would have been an improvement instead of a death nell to a village that is already frayed at the edges.
On Thursday SSIRP presented our project to the Hamilton Rotary, people who really should have no interest in what we're doing being a village 12 miles away and with their own lovely hotels and restaurants. We received applause and accolades. One man, a minister, gave an invocation thanking those of us involved with saving The Sherburne Inn. He said this: "Without vision, cultures perish."
Every day, every day, we hear criticism about our work. And then someone like this man inspires us again...and again, SSIRP is rejuvenated.
"Without vision, cultures perish."
For those of you who are paying attention, we in Sherburne have a culture. It is one in which children ride bicycles safely and unattended to a summer pool, towels flapping in the breeze behind them. It is one where the elderly ladies of the Pratt Newton Home set out chairs in anticipation of Pageant of Bands. It is one where the Lions Club sells hamburgers on Fourth of July, where our Memorial Day Parade features fewer than a dozen veterans walking down village streets tearful and proud of their service and where boy scouts wave American flags. America is not perfect, that much is certain; but here in this small place our culture is perfect in its own way. Without vision, this culture will perish.
Listen carefully, geezers: We are people with vision. We will brush you aside because we care not about about your toothpick-chewing criticism. In two years, or three, or maybe even four, we will cut the ribbon on the front doors of The Sherburne Inn at the grand opening. Maybe you should stay home on that day because the rest of us with vision and hope and heart will reopen an historic building that deserves saving. You will probably come into the Inn for a beer once our doors are open. You will be welcomed and served, but understand this: we will know who you are and still we will be polite, because that is who we are.
Pay attention geezers young and old: patience will take us where we need to go. Your words, to us, are are nothing more than fading and forgettable mist.