To an onlooker, it was nothing special. In fact, in this day and age, it was notably underwhelming for a family of five. But to us, it was sacredly unique. My childhood home was a 1,600 square foot bungalow on a busy street in a suburb city of Greater Vancouver. For my mom, stepdad, sister, brother and me, it was our castle…
We knew our house wasn’t anything special from an aesthetic perspective, but it was ours – and that made it outstanding. The countless hours spent watching movies by its wood burning fireplace, the summer afternoons in the backyard playing badminton, and the years I spent in the back alley shooting hoops on a net my stepdad installed to the garage made it historic for me. In a way, the home helped sculpt who my brother, sister and I became…
For example, my childhood home dictated the style of basketball I adopted. Basketball was my life as a teenager. I had aspirations to go pro (I only ended up making it as far as the college level in the United States). Because the back lane was part gravel and part asphalt, I didn’t have much room to dribble. There was barely enough room to do one dribble and pull up for a jumper… but that was a good thing. Not coincidentally, thanks to the thousands of hours I spent practicing in that alley behind my house, the 15-foot pull-up J became my bread and butter throughout high school and college. I was damn good at it because of that makeshift mini-court in the back alley. It was perfect.
As a family, we spent roughly eighteen years in that house. As empty nesters, my parents did much longer – about 30. But I never really left that house, at least subconsciously – it was always my ‘home.’ A decade after officially moving out, I brought my wife and kids there for barbecues with granny and grandpa – much like many of you have with your childhood home. Watching my boys play in its massive backyard was genuinely nostalgic.
All ‘Things’ Eventually Turn to Dust
As you may have read in the hundreds of news articles about the price of real estate in and around Vancouver, over the last twenty years, home values have skyrocketed. And when housing markets boom, developers move in and try to increase density – often buying large packages of houses, rezoning the area, and putting up several townhouses where there was previously one. In light of the massive urbanization that has gone on in Vancouver, and the increase in real estate prices over the years, in 2017 my parents officially sold our family home to get away from the hustle and bustle of our hometown, which has now become somewhat of a metropolis. Its population has more than tripled since I was a kid. And last month, the house was torn down…
Just like that, a structure that helped create thirty years of memories for a family was dust.
My family members have all moved away from that suburb town we grew up in, and I’ve moved to another province. But when each has driven by the area over the last month, they’ve all texted me a picture of the now vacant lot with a short and sad message.
Although it was sad for me, of course, the demolition was inevitable; and there was a valuable lesson/reminder from it: As is the case with all ‘material’ things, nothing is forever, even the most sentimental. I, and likely the majority of investors and entrepreneurs, tend to focus on growth – which often translates into acquiring more, building a larger portfolio and pursuing additional projects. Although those things are important, essential even, don’t get caught up in the ‘things’ you’re building or acquiring; rather, enjoy the journey (and challenge). Every ‘thing’ has a shelf life and will inevitably be sold off for something else. If we detach from the physical goal, instead focusing on the value each project or acquisition enables or creates, our mindset is much healthier, and inevitably we’ll experience a more profound reward.
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