Seeking Spontaneity and an Opportunity to Dream Again
“Even if it ain’t all it seems, I got a pocketful of dreams
Baby I’m from New York
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do” — Alicia Keys
About 10 years ago today, while traveling “by accident” in France with one of my best friends and a few ladies from Washington Heights, we miraculously encountered 2 of my other closest New York friends while in Paris. And before we knew it, we were all ushered from one of the swankiest Parisian Philippe Stark restaurants to the dance club below just as the DJ started spinning. It was a New York moment I’ll never forget, because the DJ must have known something special had just arrived on his dance floor. The volume exploded, the Veuve Clicquot flowed freely and Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind brought us all home, dancing on the couches until 4AM, as only New Yorkers would.
It’s one of my craziest and happiest memories, all enabled by serendipity, an open mind and heart. And literally no GPS.
I’m feeling home-sick these days, stuck in a Bermuda Triangle of inertia, intrigue and corruption, Where I can’t do ANYTHING spontaneously, let alone go home, when I know SO MUCH needs to happen to save my city, my state and my country. And all I want to do is get back.
When I left New York almost a year and a half ago now, I thought I was DONE. DONE with the noise, the crime, the darkness, the dirt, the empty storefronts, the homelessness, and the cold. Covid had written New York’s epitaph, I thought, and I needed a break. I’d tried SOOOO hard to do something with my life after cancer — even running for office — to stop the decline of New York. And I was too tired to try any more.
Admittedly, the first 6 months were truly great. Freeing, eye-opening, and warm. It was great to be close enough but so far away mentally. To watch the January 6th attacks and the inauguration from here, no longer feeling beholden or responsible for any of it.
Friends kept asking if I “missed it” and I could comfortably say No. Not at all.
But then Jazz at Lincoln Center started performing experimental Afro Brazilian Jazz and Thelonious Monk again this past March, flowers bloomed in Riverside Park, people gathered in parks for live music, fireworks and spontaneous picnics with dogs and children in tow. And my oncologists said it was ok to take a risk at living again.
Beyond that, opportunities to take over friends’ places in Long Island City, and productively act with those I care about to bring New York back suddenly appeared, SPONTANEOUSLY.
And I thought, what the HELL am I doing here?
The truth is, New York will never be “what it was” because it never stayed “what it was” before. It is the experiment that never stops experimenting, creating, dreaming or welcoming generations of refugees. And yes, the weather sucks a lot of the time, but nice weather and stagnation didn’t raise me or give me my voice. New York did.
And these days we need to prepare for the influx of women refugees who will be flocking to us for protection and to prepare for the equal influx of non-refugee men toting illegal guns we DON’T want to provide safe-harbor to.
Now is not the time for me to sit still. It’s time for me to start wandering freely, dreaming and taking action again.
Holly Lynch is a 20+ year ESG and DEI communications veteran, board member, strategist and investor who has helped individuals and companies tackle the toughest challenges, transitions and transformations in their worlds. Having survived countless life setbacks and two rounds with terminal cancer, while seeing the country-wide collapse of the systems and safety nets for the most vulnerable in and outside our communities, she is now shifting her life and career trajectories to focus on coaching and consulting with those facing down fundamental shifts and transitions as they try to adapt to change while rebuilding their lives and businesses during these unprecedented times.