You never really outgrow the deeply instilled cultural upbringing of youth. Take religion. Do you, for example, follow rugby or AFL and, perhaps more importantly, which is the true sabbath? Is it a Sunday at church or is it, rather, a Saturday attending open-for-inspections and auctions.
Most Aussies follow the one true religion that really unites this country - property. We're looking, always looking. Which is how, on the weekend, I came to be suddenly confronted with one of those moments that test the strength of your faith.
There it was: the house we've always wanted, right in front of us. Not some sort of silly dream palace, but rather a home where we could both imagine living happily for decades to come and the pressure was on.
The agent was using a cunning new tactic unheard of in the current market, and it's designed to sell the house quickly. It's called a "fixed price".
The owners had worked out what they wanted and, instead of going through the rigmarole of an auction where everybody bids the price up until the final amount is rejected and the owners ask for more (a process designed to benefit the agent first and seller second) a proper, realistic, and respectable price had been slapped on the property.
It was high, not outrageous; a fair compromise between squeezing every last drop from the buyer and leaving them a dollar over to make the inevitable changes that would be required.
I could sense the excitement building as other couples inspected the property. Then the agent leaned in and whispering his magic words.
"By the way, there's three other groups who are putting offers together. I wouldn't leave it too long. I think it will be sold by Tuesday."
I think it will too, but you know everything's gone haywire when a fixed price is being used to place pressure on buyers to cobble their offers together before someone else gets in first. It's also a sign of just how quickly the market is moving.
As a result of my upbringing in Sydney I don't see a house as (just) somewhere you hope to live a happy and engaged life. It's (obviously) much more than that: a temple to your prestige and fundamental worth, a place announcing not merely who you are in the world but who you want to be.
As a result of this dissonance between the real meaning of life and the power of money, I get easily confused between what something costs - the price we put on something like a house - and what it's worth in terms of how it will actually change our life.
What use, for example, is a perfect bedroom if you can't afford a bed to lie in it. In today's rising market, however, the cost seemed reasonable, so I turned to recent sales for confirmation.
After all, if others were equally prepared to pay ludicrously massive sums then perhaps the asking price wasn't really quite so astronomical after all. And we could feel the clock ticking. Perhaps, if we put an offer in quickly, we could beat the other couples and pick up a bargain!
So I turned to the bible, a guide to recent property sales in the area. Unfortunately, like most gospels, its message could be read, quiet plausibly, in either of two ways.
The verses detailing recent sales (mostly preceding the pandemic) showed the asking price was demonstrably ridiculous.
It was way higher than it should be. But other equally accurate epistles pointed out demand. Recent sales trends proved categorically this price was a bargain needing to be grasped at once, before anyone else could rush in.
Which prophet should be used to interpret the holy book? Will prices continue soaring higher; or are they about to come crashing down?
We're adrift in a world that's gone completely mad and the reason is we've been worshipping false gods. We've been told the market can be predicted and controlled. It can't. Take the government's promise: keeping inflation* low.
Examine the asterisk. Government defines the Reserve Bank's target as simply (ridiculously) keeping inflation within a particular band (a target it never meets, so we can confidently ignore this is meant to be between 2 and 3 per cent).
This defines inflation as the consumer price index, a carefully constructed aggregate of the average spend for an average person and explains, I guess, why the suddenly soaring house prices are so irrelevant. But what it demonstrates, incontrovertibly, is that the underlying system is becoming unstable.
Young families suddenly facing the rapidly increasing cost of buying a property will need to find this money somewhere. Because they're not governments, they won't be able to simply print it. Wealth needs to flow.
If money is frozen in place - as the inflation promise suggests it can be - the result will be immobility. Groups with wealth (old people who bought their houses years ago) will keep it and those without (young families) will be forever locked out (at least until their parents die).
This is unsustainable.
It implies stasis - an ancient Greek word meaning civil war, and from which we've derived the term stagnation.
The suddenly soaring house prices are a sign of instability at the heart of the system: it is about to shatter.
Added to these internal pressures are secondary issues that are quickly rising to the surface, such as the difference between the (low) headline CPI and underlying inflation measures that can't - and won't - be absorbed by resellers here.
It's like that old real estate agents' joke about harbour-side property in Sydney: nobody's making it any more.
As underlying demand increases, so will inflation. It's as if we've been sitting happily on the merry-go-round of free-market economics while it's been stopped, propped in place by a stick stuck into the gear while all the pressure's been building-up.
It's about to break free.
The lurch of property prices will be just the first sign of the chaos to come.