The thought came to me one evening while sitting with a bourbon on my porch in South Nyack, NY. As has unfortunately been the case for most of this Spring, the weather was cool and damp. It certainly wasn’t pleasant, but it it wasn’t all that awful either. Darkness was gathering, gradually overcoming what little daylight there was to begin with. The air was chilly but still held the promise of warmer days ahead. I could sense a change in the air, a transition from light to darkness. Winter to Spring and, eventually, Summer, lied ahead.
What it all came to mean for me is that change is inevitable — and, constant. It is with us in the very passage of every single day.
And, sometimes, that change is enormous.
That has never been more true than it is right now.
COVID-19, a.k.a. The Corona Virus has changed the world in ways rarely, if ever, seen before. Personally, in my 65 years on this planet I have witnessed my share of life-altering events like the attacks of 911 and Super Storm Sandy. But, not even they can compare to the sea change caused by this pernicious enemy.
Still, it is just change. As a Country, as a world community, we have ALWAYS dealt with it. And, even when events seem catastrophic and the odds insurmountable, we have not been destroyed. In fact, we have not only survived but emerged better off for the experience. Think about it — in the 244 year history of America, our people have experienced a Civil War that killed hundreds of thousands of our own, a devastating Flu Pandemic, a total Economic Collapse and subsequent Great Depression, 2 World Wars, numerous Epidemics including Polio and AIDS, Terrorist Attacks (domestic and international) and, a plethora of both Natural and Man-made Disasters. Each event could have been our last. But, they were not. And, neither will this!
As I have always done, I still walk regularly into my little village of Nyack, NY . I practice the protocols in place to keep myself and others safe so that I can do what I do best — continue to observe life in the place I truly call home. And, from what I see, the village is already experiencing the pain caused by COVID-19. The loss of life experienced by our community is nothing short of tragic. Those scars will always be with us.
But, the economic impact will have a seriously deleterious effect, as well. In fact, it already has. For a downtown that was experiencing previous challenges, this situation has proven fatal for some. I know of at least 4 businesses that will not be returning when we can finally experience a return to some semblance of normalcy.
And, for a village that was already struggling, this could prove devastating to not just some, but to all.
Ironically, I had met with Nyack mayor, Don Hammond, a few months BEFORE all of this went down to discuss my concerns about the amount of vacant story fronts scattered throughout the village. In our hour-long discussion of possible reasons and solutions, Mayor Hammond brought up and interesting point. He said that business in a small town has always been subject to economic tics, both up and down. We were experiencing one of the down-turns. He added that we needed fresh ideas and people with entrepreneurial spirit to replace those businesses that were lost.
And, thousands of small towns and villages around the Country were facing similar problems in the retail market because the way people shop was changing even before the Corona attack.
And, so it is today. Much has been lost. And, more still will be. Lives taken cannot be replaced. But, businesses can. This is not to ignore the pain of those who suffered the loss of what must have been their dreams, but, rather, to challenge them — and, others — to be reborn. To not look at what we lost but, instead, what we might actually have to gain.
Where are the bold? Where are the intrepid travelers? Like a Phoenix, who will rise from the ashes?
Americans have always been that way. We need to be again. Because change is inevitable. HOW we navigate it will make all the difference.