If I’ve accomplished nothing else in my life, I’ve certainly succeeded in identifying the many reasons people buy Lake Geneva vacation homes. I’ve rambled about gibberish, tried incredibly hard to bite my tongue when miserable properties sell for all of the money, and wandered around in subtle tones when sellers do stupid things and reap stupid outcomes. But aside from those, I’ve given the reasons. The reasons why. The reasons why people do or the reasons why people should. If you always dreamed of a lake house here ever since your childhood visit to your uncle’s rented cottage on Oakwood Street, then, it seems to me, that when your financial capability catches up with your dream, you should buy yourself a vacation home here. If you’ve recently found yourself in the pleasant situation of being rich and you feel that perhaps it’s time you buy a nearby lake house to force yourself to take some time for yourself and your family, then that’s a good idea, too. But for all of the noble reasons and the idyllic ones there is one more: Pure, simple, terrible, Boredom.
A friend of mine once wondered aloud about the paradox of wealth. He said that if he was ever to find it, he wouldn’t complicate his life in the way that most wealthy do. He wouldn’t buy cars and he wouldn’t buy boats and he wouldn’t buy houses. He reasoned that those things are just complications that obstruct the supposed simplicity of an enjoyable existence. I listened to him and in a way, I agreed. But in another more meaningful way, I couldn’t have disagreed more. As I drove around the lake yesterday and watched the business of an unwinding summer underway, I thought of something else. The rich complicate their lives because what else are they to do? Sit around and stare at gilded walls?
Boredom doesn’t mean a lack of activity. I have a brother who works like crazy, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t bored. I have friends in private equity that work their tails off, and that has nothing to do with being bored. Perhaps bored isn’t the word you’d prefer I use. Maybe it’s unchallenged. Uninspired. Maybe it’s complacent. The interpretations are the same. Life, even one lived by someone of means, can be remarkably uninspired. This is why people have hobbies. This is why I fly fish. This is why people drive sports cars. Do they want to impress their neighbors when they launch out of their driveways? Of course, but really they’re just trying to find entertainment. Once financial success is achieved, there must be something else challenging worth contemplating.
And that’s why people find their way to Lake Geneva. They’re seeking entertainment. They’re seeking enjoyment. They’re seeking a challenge. Some are seeking solitude, but not the mundane variety that is a weekend spent in your finely manicured suburban back yard. That’s some real solitude, of the depressing sort. For every buyer who buys their Lake Geneva home because they’ve wanted to be here since they were a child, there is a buyer who found her way here two months ago because it seemed like the sort of complication that just might solve the tricky issue of painful and persistent weekend boredom.