I was on vacation for 18 days, just long enough to really relax and let my mind wander into the possibility of what life might be like if I were ever able to retire. Being in Ajijic, Mexico, which is an enclave of retired ex-pats from America, Canada and the United Kingdom, I was usually the youngest man in the room, which was a pleasant change from my current station in life where I am more often realizing how young everyone else is.
Mom used to say that youth is wasted on the young. She was right. As a young man, I never understood what she meant. I do today. The wide eyed, openness to possibility and enthusiasm for life, the physical fluidity and recovery that are the joys of youth are not appreciated nearly as much as when you lose them.
Being in an environment of retired folks, I became acutely aware of how difficult it can be to navigate the world when you lose your physical strength and reflexes. Watching elderly individuals as they would cross a cobblestone street without falling made me nervous for them. But they went slowly, and stayed on the solid cobblestones.
Of course, watching the young ladies walk across those same cobblestone streets in their 4-inch stiletto heels while carrying a baby also made me nervous, but they too made it across without falling.
After 18 days of cheese and nachos, guacamole and carnitas from roadside stands, I had to get to the gym immediately. I walked in to the cardio room at the Loews Hotel and dragged my tattered and overfed self onto a treadmill to start working off the holiday goodness of tres leches cake that I had way too much of.
It felt good to be back and getting active again. The joy of a vacation is sitting down and relaxing for hours on end. The price is that you get lazy and find it harder and harder to exercise. The first 30 minutes on the treadmill are definitely not fun. But being back in the gym with friends is great. Sharing stories of the holidays and chatting about the upcoming year is exciting.
One of the guys in the locker room and I were commiserating about the dearth of local snow, so a third guy had to pipe up about his plans to head to Whistler in two weeks and then to Switzerland for some good skiing. After I stifled my jealousy, we got to chatting about how he can take so much time off. Turns out he runs a property management firm and handles a bunch of apartments throughout Los Angeles.
Our conversation morphed into a chat about the real estate market and its current conditions. He validated my opinion that we are in the middle of a new bubble. His experience was that there are a lot of investors who have scooped up bad properties, inflated the prices and are dumping or getting ready to dump them.
We talked about how the “big guys” are doing again what they did before, and how that caused the 2008 crash. It’s fairly obvious to those who pay attention to the risks that we are soon going to have another bubble burst in the next few years. But that awareness is an outgrowth of those of us who lived through that nightmare with our eyes open to the risks.
Young people don’t see the risks. They see the opportunities and the joys, but are blind to the dangers. Or maybe as we age we focus on the risks and dangers and lose sight of the opportunities and the joys. I’m not really sure which it is. Seems sort of like a chicken and egg thing. Do we get old because we lose the joy, or do we lose the joy because we get old?
I’m not sure which it is, but after witnessing the perils of youth and the perils of old age, I think I want to say that the wise route is to be aware of the perils on the one hand, but keep an eye on the joys as well.
Just like buying property, there’s wealth to be had, but it comes with a risk. Eyes wide open is the watchword for those of us who endured the last “downturn.”
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra