Confucius once said “…our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Over the course of one’s life, it is not all too uncommon to come face to face with one’s own limits. To stand and look over the precipice, wondering if you have what it takes to stave off what seems like the inevitable fall into nothingness and insignificance. For anyone who has ever come to that point in his or her life, whether it was filing for bankruptcy, losing a child, having your life wrecked by a natural disaster or finding yourself betrayed by love and life, you know this feeling all too well.
It was around 4:30 am when we heard a bit of a ruckus down at our shop. (Our shop founder and owner lives very close to where our store was located). Within minutes, flames began bursting through the sheet-metal roofing of the warehouse we called home. By 6:00 am, the Bayou across the street from the store was filled with curious onlookers, watching as the flames ripped through wood and metal, black smoke billowed high into the early morning sky and soot and ash began to finding resting places miles away. It seemed that every fire truck in New Orleans had descended upon 3536 Toulouse St. on this April morning to fight what would turn out to be a 12-hour battle -- water and person power against wind and fire. By evening, it seemed as though fire and ash had won the day, completely destroying the 55-year old warehouse on the corner of Jeff Davis and Toulouse that housed a local furniture restoration store and our beloved flagship NOLA Til Ya Die store.
On that day and the days to follow, we felt lost. As we spent the next few days staring at the twisted steal and melted metal, smelling the burnt stench of the merchandise that once made up our inventory, knowing that nothing was salvageable, it seemed as though all was truly lost. In many ways, it was ironic as our vision for Til Ya Die was born out of the great tragedy of Hurricane Katrina ravaging our beautiful city in 2005. It was at that time that our founder and owner, Kathleen A. McCall was filled with such a sense of pride and great hope as she reflected on the people and culture of New Orleans and what the city meant to her. Feelings of resilience and resolve seemed to consume her as she realized deep in her soul that somehow, someway, New Orleans would come back even stronger. And that’s exactly what happened.
It is this same hope that has sustained us over this past year. There have been many days when we thought it might just be easier to hang it up (and honestly, it might have been easier) but we are grounded in a city that doesn’t allow one to just give up quite so easily. We have the greatest customers in the world at Til Ya Die and it is because of you that we have been able to keep going. The encouragement and the hope and support that we have experienced over the last 12 months has sustained us and has given us the drive we need to keep going.
In many ways, the destruction that we experienced as a company through the fire in 2018 and the devastation that New Orleans experienced through Hurricane Katrina in 2005 are analogous to how real life works. Sometimes, really bad things happen, and whenever they do we are all faced with a decision to fold or to allow our worst days to somehow shape and form us into better versions of ourselves. And whenever we become better versions of our selves, this in and of itself ultimately makes the world a better place. No one ever said it would be easy and we know firsthand that there are some days where you don’t feel like you have what it takes to go another day or another step, but maybe, just maybe you will find that sliver of hope, that little extra grace to go one more day, just one step at a time. Give it your all...Til Ya Die!
“But I’ve bought a big bat.
I’m all ready, you see.
Now my troubles are going
To have troubles with me!” – Dr. Seuss