Sunday, May 07, 2006

We're in the club

An article in our local paper yesterday discussed the enormous task we have of sifting through the overload of worthy charitable causes in these days of natural disasters and other tragedies. The columnist said basically that the only way to cope is to prioritize charities and organizations which are especially suited to one's gifts, and concentrate your time, energy, and money there. He remarked that some people find a specific charity because it speaks to them in some way. Others are drawn to another charity because of an important experience in their lives. For instance, you are diagnosed with breast cancer, and decide to use your energy for breast cancer research organizations. The charity suddenly got personal. I would imagine in that sense, every "Race for the Cure" would get your attention, every pink ribbon pin would make you notice it, and every news article on breast cancer research would be read fully and intently. You have instantaneous rapport with others involved in the world of breast cancer and its cures. One hope, one dream, thousands of lives brought together because of a common entity.

Personal experiences (even much less significant ones) have that effect. One minute, you are in your normal life; the next minute, you feel part of a "club" - a group of people, all in similar situations, who understand what it's like.

I never used to notice "for sale" signs in front yards. Before last year, the real estate business held no interest for me one way or the other. I never gave a second thought to Realtors and their cell phones, "staging," offers and counter-offers, or whether it's a "seller's market" or "buyer's market." It just wasn't a part of my life.

However, I noticed on our trip to and from Winterport yesterday that for some time I have considered myself intimately involved with the real estate business. I notice those signs - For Sale, Price Reduced, Sale Pending, Under Contract, etc. I mentally calculate how long a certain house has been on the market, or how many turnovers in owners it has had since I originally saw it. I picture the family inside getting ready for showings, agonizing over whether to accept an offer, wondering whether they will move on their specific timetable. I emphathize with their every anxious moment.

For some of these homes, we are their competition. It is within the realm of possibility that some families will tour their homes as well as ours, and have to make a choice of one or none. But that is irrelevant. The empathy still stands. We are together in this more than we are separated by this. The common experience overrides everything. When we meet another homeowner selling his house, we strike up an instant and animated conversation, with plenty of nods and sympathy to go around. Oh yes, we are brothers and sisters now. We might be in the House Olympics on Team USA, still trying to beat the others' times, but in the end, we are all in this together.

Here's to the Team! May we all be winners!

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