What the heck does that mean? I bring you this pithy wisdom courtesy of a gentleman I know, a hearty, strapping Swede, my father-in-law. No simple man, rather one who enjoys a quiet life, tidily sequestered in his own piece of paradise. He is of the woods. The consummate outdoorsman, reared in a mountain pass town about an hour east of Seattle. His are the words of someone comfortable with economy, brevity and elegant simplicity; a man intimately aware of the subtleties of nature and the earth beneath his feet. My father-in-law, in his seventies yet still as large and solid as a Clydesdale, lives in an unassuming home overlooking a picturesque community, the kind of ponderosa pine setting where the clanging of wagon wheels or signaling of the coal mine whistle as men emerged from the Earth’s depths is perhaps a not-too-distant memory. A visitor to his home will find dogs, bird feeders, a carefully tended corn row or two, tomato patches and berry bushes, a forest planted and nurtured by his own hands. Cords of wood, cut and uncut, neatly piled and fully accounted for, stand guard, there in service to heat his home and provide the physical exercise which keeps him vigorous. An ever-present wisp of smoke from the chimney bespeaks the coziness within.
My father-in-law is pragmatic, not the kind of man inclined to be caught up in a speculative land rush. So, it is in this modest, yet insightful observation of his, I recognize an eloquent relationship to home ownership and how, in a frenzy to capitalize on it, whether as home owner or real estate service provider, many have lost sight of what it really exemplifies. Perhaps we may each interpret his words in our own manner. For me, they reveal, with profundity, the simple truth that where we are today is only one step away from where we will be headed tomorrow and the next day. To stay put in your “campsite” is to live in inertia, incapable of moving into the darkness beyond the campfire’s glow for fear of lurking dangers. To follow the trail is to stride, perhaps brazenly, into the unknown.
What does owning a home mean to you? Is it your campsite, trail or perhaps both? Arguably, first time home buyers head down the trail intent on finding a campsite, but only for temporary shelter as they consider which fork to take on the trail ahead. The silent generation may be in search of that last campsite, where life can be lived with dignity until the campfire is extinguished. True to the adage, we can’t really be certain if our journey is complete or we’ve just put up the lean-to for a night’s stay. It bears thinking about, though, especially as investments are made, careers in real estate begun. Are you camping or hiking? Are you careening down the trail, rounding the corner into the waiting grizzly or exercising common trail sense, planning your path ahead, well provisioned and prepared for any eventuality?