Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's Next?

I have become endlessly fascinated lately with real estate. I don't know why. Well, I guess I do know why. It's probably because Angie and I were very seriously considering a move to what we considered our dream house which is very near to where we live now. We call it 'The Garden House,' not because it has a garden (although it does) but because it is on Garden Street here in the Rancho District.

This was all happening several months ago and I think I even posted a picture of the house here on the blog. It really was our perfect house: beautiful wood interiors, a great office off the master bedroom, two full baths, a guest house, three stalls for horses in a nicely appointed, turn-around barn, a converted garage where I could teach classes, a huge kitchen and dining room, massive fireplace, big lot with, literally, a white picket fence, a park across the street for the puppies to play and a portrait-like view of the mountains in the distance. Quiet neighborhood, long driveway and plenty of space for not only a flower garden but also a vegetable garden. Angie and I looked at it while taking our daily walk about fifty times. We even contacted the realtor and went inside a couple of times.

The house was not selling. The price kept dropping. Finally, the realtor called us and said the seller might be interested in a lease-option. Our hopes soared. The house, to be honest, was slightly outside of our range financially, but a lease would have been ideal.

Alas, the house sold a few weeks ago.

But the flame had been fanned. Since then I've been watching house-selling shows non-stop. In fact, just last night I was up very late watching one. Nine million dollar condos in New York City, Beach-front property on the Gulf Coast, a fixer-upper in Austria, a Costa Rican place on fifty acres...on and on.

Utterly fascinated by it all. I've even gone so far as to start finding places on the internet and saving them so that Angie can see them. She briefly enters my outlandish fantasies and looks through all the floor plans and pictures with me.

One of the features in the more high-end places here in LA is a home movie theater. I love that. The pictures on the web show a mini-movie-theater and my imagination darts off at a thousand miles an hour.

Now, the truth is, we have no intention of moving. We love our house. We live very close to The Equestrian Center here in LA and Griffith Park is only footsteps away. We have a wonderful two-stall barn in our backyard complete with tack room, a huge garage, a great yard all attached to a 1920s, two-bedroom bungalow with a big fireplace, office and wood furnishings. In short, we live in a great house in a very exclusive neighborhood.

The uncomfortable truth is, I always want more. I have the disease of 'More.' It's a niggling disease that sits dormant inside me for months at a time and then surfaces at the oddest times.

The uncomfortable truth is, I have a tremendously difficult time being satisfied with what I have. The grass is always greener, ya da ya da ya da.

The uncomfortable truth is, I spend way too much time living in the land of 'What if...' It's a place that doesn't exist. It never has. It is a land of refuge for nitwits like myself that should know better but don't. It is the land of unnecessary dreams. For when all is said and done, I live in my dream house, I live my dream life, I do, every single day, the stuff of dreams. I exist and thrive in the midst of a life I dreamt of fervently only a few years ago. I want for nothing. I am so layered in care, love and purpose that it has become second nature, common ground, daily habit. And yet I, like many others, I suspect, thrash around, gazing longingly at stuff I don't need nor really, down deep, want. This disease of 'More' is pesky. It's diverting. It's illogical.

And yet, I recommend it highly, in moderation. Because the moment I stop wanting more is the moment I enter into the world of resignation.

Many years ago I watched a terrible movie called 'First Family.' It was about, well, the first family, the President of the United States and his family. It starred Bob Newhart, of all people. Just an awful film. But there was scene in the movie that has stuck with me all these years later. The camera, at one point, moved from bedroom to bedroom in The White House and depicted the dreams and hopes and fears of the first family. The daughter dreamt of parties and impossibly good-looking boyfriends, the son dreamt of harrowing adventures in the old west, the wife dreamt of being chased by Zulu warriors in the jungle and the president, Bob Newhart, dreamt of sitting alone in a white room at a plain table and sipping clear soup hour after hour. A shockingly good scene in an otherwise forgettable movie.

I think of that scene because it is one of my deepest fears; to stop wanting more, to have reached the summit of my dreams, to have reached a point in life that demands nothing from me, no effort, no demands, no effort, utterly lacking in ambition. It is a loud, clanging warning bell for those of us cursed with the disease of 'More.'

I live in my dream house. I live in my dream world. My grass is so green it hurts my eyes. In short, I have never been more content. Every aspect of my life is beyond comfortable, it is borderline royal. But I still like to look at the pictures, read the stories, anticipate the vicarious thrills of a younger and less informed life. I still tremble with the thought of what might be around the next bend, over the next hill, of what might

Life is what you do while you're busy making other plans.

See you tomorrow.

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