Scott Bayens: We have no choice but to persevere
In late February, as reports from China regarding the spread of COVID-19 were being widely reported but largely ignored (including by me), my wife got a call she had been dreading but wasn’t a surprise. Her father had died after a long illness. We headed back to Tennessee, participated in the memorial and provided support to my mother and sister-in-law and our niece. We did some crying of our own too.
When we finally came home, the real impact of the coronavirus was beginning to rear its ugly head, both in terms of new cases in the U.S. as well as in the financial markets. From my wife’s perspective, the timing could not be worse. She had not been focused on the emerging crisis and although I was following the news, I didn’t share my concerns knowing it would be too much for her to process.
When it all did come to light for her, she lamented over the distraction it would cause. After all, it was stressful enough, a lot to process, and, I would guess, she was worried she might lose sight of the memory of her recently departed dad, her ability to honor him and heal herself.
Ironically, as we all scrambled for the last roll of toilet paper, we continued to head to school, work and the slopes. Talk was it could miss us here in the mountains, and by sheer will, like waking up from a bad dream, it would all go away. What a difference a couple of weeks make, and slowly (perhaps too slowly), the scope and seriousness of the disease took hold.
Now — even as schools, bars, restaurants and even campgrounds are closing — we all see the storm on the horizon but honestly don’t know how much damage this approaching “hurricane” will cause and what might be left in its wake. Mother nature (some might say God) is in charge now; not us. Even before “landfall,” we can already see the devastating effects to our local businesses, our workforce, our health and way of life.
The question is how do we process it all? For some, it’s denial. For others, it’s pure panic. And for the self-enlightened, it’s a time of quiet contemplation and opportunity to see something greater; to open our eyes to what’s really important. But there’s no denying the reality of it all has come into focus for most of us. Yet others seem to be coping by attempting the approach of business as usual.
After seeing advertisements and social media posts this week touting low interest rates and opportunities for buyers, I would suggest this is not the time for self-promotion. Forgive me for perhaps misinterpreting a “damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead” approach, but I do think we all need to pull back a bit, be respectful and practice some sensitivity now.
And as this is a real estate column, I will say speculation about the local and national markets run rampant, similar to every other business and sector. I’ve read articles that indicate everything from doom and gloom to one that suggested the housing market might just help us dodge the coming recession. Regardless, it’s going to take a big hit. Even so, buying and selling will go on; relocation, birth, death and divorce all require a change of abode, but specific to luxury markets, no one ever needs to buy a second home. The real outcome all remains to be seen.
Meantime, might I suggest this is a time to embrace each other (virtually of course), tap into our community, support local businesses and be mindful of those in need. We’re all going to have to rely on each other to get through these uncertain times. As people in my life have recently reminded me, we might not have control of this situation, but we do have control of ourselves, how we react and what we ultimately do.
My dear friend and founder of Aspen Success Coaching, Jeff Patterson, puts it this way, “There’s fear, there’s chaos but you still get to decide who you want to be in this moment. How do I want to show up for my family, who do I want to be at work? You can shift your focus and intention on a dime; you are in control of that.” For some that might be spiritual mumbo jumbo, and it’s hard to implement, but powerful if you can get your mind around it and put it into practice.
Thinking of my wife again and the process of mourning her dad, she told me last week, “there’s something missing”; gone now the simple comfort of knowing he was just a phone call away, there if she needed him. I think it’s safe to say there’s something missing for all of us now — certainly, control, prosperity, peace and safety, to name a few.
After a recent outing with the dogs, McLean found some relief and commented she’s seeing things more clearly, paying more attention to what’s important and transformed by loss. I’m proud of her and, like her, we all need to work our way through, adjust our thinking, realize what we have to be thankful for and, yes, persevere.
Scott Bayens (GRI, ABR, CNE) is a Realtor with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. Learn more by visiting his website at http://www.aspendreamhome.com.