Deeded Interest: Grateful in the age of COVID
Here in the mountains we have a couple of truisms relating to the summer season. One is “come for the winter; stay for the summer.” Another is, “summers are always too short.” Of course, as fires rage now in the month of August, and Interstate 70 remains closed, many are praying for rain and cooler temps sooner than later. But those of us lucky to live here know how special these months usually are.
Under normal circumstances, summers here are jam packed with so many activities, special events and music; it’s simply impossible to do everything. Of course COVID put a stop to many of our usual favorites this year — Food & Wine, Ideas Festival and the JAS Labor Day concerts to name a few — at least the live, in-person versions.
As a result, after the lockdown and the warming weather, we all headed outdoors. The whole valley, heck, the whole nation, decided to go camping. So much so there’s a waiting list for campers and RVs. And once you packed the car or hooked up the trailer for a weekend away, good luck finding a site. And if you’ve been in the market for a bike, paddleboard or fly rod — good luck.
For those who have called the valley home for the past 10 or more years, none of us can remember a summer with so many visitors; so many out-of-state plates, and so many looking for and buying real estate. By now you’ve heard the stats. More than half a billion in sales or under contract since Memorial Day. One broker in my office put more than $100 million under contract in one week. In the past 10 years there has never been this much activity.
So no surprise a good number of local brokers are enjoying a record year. I’ve heard many say, “It’s been nuts but not complaining” or “sow while the sun is shining” and “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”; you get the point. Everyone in our sector is “busy”. It’s evolved to a salutation of sorts.
A member of our leadership team recently asked what does it really mean? By saying those words out loud, what are we trying to convey? In our competitive business, are some of us actually trying to be busier than the other? And why does it matter?
The message was to use care and remain thoughtful before telling others you are “busy.” What does it say to our clients and families, for example? Are they not a priority right now? And as a broker that struggled during the recession, I remembered how it felt when others indicated they were busy when I wasn’t. From experience, I can tell you it was far from empowering but when asked, it was easier for me to just say how “busy” I was. Fake it ‘til you make and all that.
For me, as competitive as I can be, the dispatch resonated for two reasons.
Firstly, those of us who are “busy” were scared shitless back in March fearing we may not see a dime for the rest of the year. We rolled every boulder up the hill in terms of PPP, EDIL, unemployment insurance, mortgage forbearance and loan deferment.
It’s not lost on me that not everyone has recovered or even found fortune in this weird window of time. Yes, I think about other brokers but so too friends in the food, service and travel industries. I admire and sympathize with our teachers facing new challenges; more work and same pay. I read food banks are overwhelmed and in need of donations and record numbers of Americans remain out of work. And frankly I think we ignore how many have died.
My second realization was related to how “busy” I and others have been, and how fortunate I am now. I have prayed and prepared for this kind of run for years but never imagined it would have coincided with a world-wide pandemic. The truth is I have been too “busy” to be grateful. I mean down on my knees thankful, jumping for joy in celebration; relieved, proud.
It takes too much time, I’ve got too much to do and need to stay on task, responsive and proactive. By doing so, I am realizing I’m missing the very thing I’ve worked so hard for and so long.
Truth is, it takes practice and commitment to be truly gratified. You’ve got to stop and breathe it in. Be still; be present; be purposeful, intentional. Stop to consider those still struggling and suffering. Pay attention, give back. At some point I had better get “busy” slowing down to not miss the greater meaning and lessons of this rocket-powered roller coaster we’re all on.
Scott Bayens (GRI, ABR, CNE) is a realtor with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. Learn more about him and view current listings at http://www.aspendreamhome.com.
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