Recently a friend said he was depressed because he hadn’t achieved much. When I asked why, he said that he thought he was going to change the world and now he is 70 he knows he isn’t.
Let’s face it very few people get to change the world for even a short time, so I thought he was being a bit hard on himself, especially as he’d been a successful teacher of children with special needs and had undoubtedly affected hundreds of lives for the better. Yet I understood what he meant. In the 60s my friend went on Ban The Bomb marches, anything seemed possible.
Okay we lived in Huntingdonshire, which was hardly Carnaby Street and in many ways was behind the times, yet there was optimism in the air as ordinary people like us went to university. In middle age my friend entered local politics in the hope of making a better future, he remained optimistic.
My friend represented Labour and briefly, during the Blair years, wielded influence locally, but  looking back he realises these successes soon ended when the opposition was re-elected.
What this tale highlights to me is that few of us ever realise our dreams, especially when the bar is set so high. I’m not saying we shouldn’t aspire to great things, because we all know that the higher you aim the higher you get. Perhaps my friend’s depression is caused, not by the lack of success but, by a lack of optimism. Of course the young are bound to be optimistic before experience says otherwise and I’m sure there are youngsters who see a rosy future but somehow it is hard to be optimistic as we enter 2019.
The doom and gloom of a looming Brexit (sadly on my birthday) does tend to put a damper on things but hey, I’m not giving up. There is a chance that here in our little town we could do things differently. Just look at the reports in this paper of what has been happening over the Christmas period and you cannot fail to be impressed at just how much goes on here. Yes we have problems and The Riverporteroften points them out, but they could all be resolved with determination and effort from those in power and good will from everyone else.
So my new year’s message is let’s all work together and make 2019 a year to be optimistic. Ed.