A New Theory of Chaos

(this column was first published on 4/09/05)

order_and_chaosRealtors are in a unique position to experience the good, bad and the plain old weird of the human condition on a daily basis. Direct exposure to human nature 24/7/365 can be  a mind-bending and, heart-wrenching experience. That’s why Realtor years are measured in dog years – each one counting for 7 years of doing virtually anything else in life.

The home transitions we work with are part and parcel of major life transitions our clients are working through – birth, death, divorce, job loss, marriage. All of the biggies.  Homes also involve huge amounts of money – the quicksilver that catalyzes so much emotion in us and creates an alchemical recipe for some very intense interactions.

Realtors see it all – fear, greed, grace, courage and generous spirits. Whatever qualities are lurking deep inside, inevitably bubble up during the cauldron of escrow. If they keep their ears and eyes open Realtors notice distinct patterns in the kinds of choices their clients make around significant changes over time.

These similarities are intriguing commentary on the mood shifts and swings of the pendulum happening in the larger cultural milieu we all swim in.

An astute Realtor doesn’t need the Wall Street Journal to know which way consumer confidence is blowing. Realtors know when unemployment is rising. Realtors don’t require a Census to know the divorce rate in California is high.

Since I am well over 100 in Realtor years, I’d like to share a few observations about the way I see so many of us living in the world.

I’m convinced that we are developing a secret stealth muscle located behind the third eye but invisible to modern x-rays. I call it the chaos muscle. It is the muscle that corresponds to prolonged bouts of heightened neural-synaptic activity occasioned by back-to-back soccer games, daily traffic gyms, weekend Costco runs, over work , over stress, rampant consumerism, daily headlines, lack of rem sleep and yes, the high cost of housing.

The mutant ninja in each of us has responded in true Darwinian fashion – we’ve gone into survival mode and sans any illicit stem cell assistance, we’ve begun growing new chaos muscles.

Here’s the irony – like all dutiful muscles, the more we exercise our chaos muscle, the bigger it grows and the more chaos it can handle and indeed the more it needs. We speed through our days full of frantic regrets about the past and fervent fleeting imaginations about the future to the extent that we miss the richness of the present moment, again and again.

Each night we fall asleep with minds racing. We wake up the next morning, pop our prozac, head out once more into the breach and shout to the world – “Bring it on.”

Real estate has always been a business where simpler is better. As soon as things start to get more complex, the harder it is to make important connections happen and oh-so-subtle fates coincide. The degree of difficulty grows exponentially with each new wrinkle thrown into the mix.

So here’s my advice buyers and sellers: try to cage your own inner chaos muscle. Make “home” your core concern and don’t clutter up the process with a thousand other ideas or plans. Fight the adrenaline-induced temptation to put a heaping helping of everything on your plate. Make an important decision about home unclouded by your own inner fun house full of crazy smoke and mirrors.

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