I'm constantly amazed at the human capacity to heal, at our ability as a species to absorb a harsh blow and quickly, almost effortlessly, go on with life.
Usually this behavior takes place at a personal level and goes unnoticed. You lose someone close, you grieve for a while, and then you immerse yourself in daily life and find that the pain subsides. There is comfort in routine.
But sometimes, after certain shared catastrophic events, we experience this cycle of healing as a group. We're in the midst of such a phenomenon now. The attack and collapse of the World Trade Center occurred a year ago this month, yet it already seems like something that happened a decade or generation ago.
In most cases, people have recovered from shock and sadness, made adjustments, and gone back to work. Nowhere is this more evident than in New York City, where you would be hard-pressed to say the day-in and day-out pace of the place has been altered in any way. The subways are crowded. Cabbies try to cut you off at the crosswalks. People head to the Hamptons for the weekend.
Indeed, we have already become so inured to the events of September 11 that they have become fair game for the entertainment industry. As I write this column, an album featuring songs about September 11 is climbing the record charts. Numerous books have already been written on the subject with more to come. Major motion pictures are rumored to be in the works.
Most of these media will likely concentrate on the big picture-we were attacked, we survived, we're down but we'll rise again. It's a very American way of looking at the event, essentially cutting to the chase with an optimistic outlook that everything will eventually be fine. Life will go on.
What will likely be overlooked, however, are the millions of "small" sacrifices that make such a recovery possible.
One such example, is the recent reopening of the Bank of New York technology and operations center at 101 Barclay Street-a facility adjacent to what was the World Trade Center complex. BoNY could have used any number of business excuses to move the facility elsewhere-infrastructure problems, redevelopment concerns, safety issues.
Instead, they rebuilt and reopened on their existing downtown site-with little fanfare, without asking for anything in return.
That's not to say the company didn't learn a lesson from September 11. At the rededication ceremony, BoNY announced it was building a new facility in New York City. In the past, the location would likely have been downtown Manhattan. Instead, the company chose Brooklyn, a wise risk management decision.
Still, reopening its Wall Street office is something of a win for BoNY, one of many small victories that will eventually return our lives to normal.