A high-living couple at Smith Mountain Lake walked away from their home recently, mailing the keys to the house, along with the keys to two luxury cars, to First National Bank of Christiansburg, the holder of the mortgage and the loans on the fancy cars.

The cost of living the high life came due when their adjustable-rate mortgage payment tripled and they couldn’t pay the bills.

For too many years, too many Americans lived beyound their means, using easy credit to buy things they neither needed nor could afford. Now the piper comes to call and he demands payment.

Part of the blame lies with the banks and mortgage firms that made it too easy to buy "McMansions" and expensive homes through jumbo, 100 percent loans and no-interest mortgages. Part of the blame lies in an economy that flew too high for too long before plummeting to the ground in a long-overdue crash.

But those who made the choice share the blame as well, chasing the high life without regard to the cost. When the bill came due they couldn’t pay it and their pursuit of the good life also brought the walls crashing down on many who were just trying to achieve the dream of home ownership. We have friends who weren’t really living beyond their means but who now face negative equity in their homes because the housing market went South.

Like too many Americans, we chased that illusionary good life for too long, living high, driving expensive cars, buying fancy clothes and taking fancy vacations. Luckily, we escaped before the crash, cashing in and moving to the simpler life in the country.

I’d love to say we managed this through sound planning but I can’t. It was luck. Blind luck. Nothing more. As my granddaddy liked to say, even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while.