I saw the movie “I Am” last weekend and was moved and inspired beyond words. If you aren’t familiar with this movie, you can learn more here. I highly recommend it.
I also learned that Tom Shadyac, the man behind the movie, was also at Kenyon College at my daughter’s graduation just a few weeks ago. Apparently he had a relative graduating. How ironic (or fitting, depending on how you look at it!) that this man I’d never heard of and who so moved me with his film just a few weeks later was in the middle of Ohio at the same time I was. Anyway, when the film came into my awareness last week, I just knew I had to go see it.
So what does this have to do with my Lexus?
Well, in the film, you learn that Tom sold his big, expensive house and most of his belongings and traded them in for a mobile home (albeit in Malibu), and began biking to work.
After so resonating with the message in the film, I began to wonder, to really follow my heart, do I have to sell my house, and my car, and totally change my life? Is that what it takes to be in integrity with this new path of following inspiration instead of being ruled by money and materialism. Although I must admit, I do live a pretty simple life, no where near the extremes of excess that Tom shares he indulged in prior to making the film.
However, the question remained in my mind.
As I’m navigating this journey from materialism to meaning, I’m very conscious that I don’t know exactly what it means. While I’m very clear my experiment, and ultimately my message, is not about selling all my belongings and moving to an ashram, I also don’t know exactly how to start living in this new way. It’s a daily question, sometimes a battle between heart and head, and ultimately a choice, about what feels right to me. And my guess is I’m not the only one facing this question.
Back to the Lexus…
The other day, as I was driving to an appointment, the question of “Do I need to sell my Lexus?” was haunting me. Now it’s important to note that when I originally bought my first Lexus six years ago, it wasn’t for the status of owning Lexus. After years of driving reliable, and practical Nissan’s, Toyota’s, and Honda’s, I really wanted a Lexus. I just liked them.
I had worked hard to build a successful business and I felt like I deserved a little reward. So on Mother’s Day 2005 I bought myself that Lexus. And it felt good every time I got into it and drove it. Again, not because of what it said about me, but just because it felt good. It felt like a reward for my hard work. And I’m not always good about rewarding myself – historically, when I’ve accomplished something, it’s just been about raising the bar and shooting for another goal.
So this question of “Do I need to sell my Lexus?” —as was “Do I need to buy a Prius? For some reason that seems like the acceptable car for a person on a journey to following meaning! — was on my mind as I drove to my appointment. I pulled into the parking lot and proceeded to back into a parking spot next to a wall. And guess what happened? I hit the wall and “bruised” my beloved Lexus. Thankfully, it was only a surface bruise and not a dent, and my Lexus and I will both be just fine.
My reaction to this debacle? Well, of course I hit the wall! I was so focused on the car. And what you focus on EXPANDS, right?! And not in a good way in this instance.
What I walked away with
The Lexus is not about excess for me. It doesn’t define who I am. That’s not why I bought it. That’s not why I drive it. That’s not why I love it. It just makes me feel good. And I also didn’t die when I bruised it. A sign that I’m not too attached to it. After all, it is just a car.
But it was a good little lesson for me. And a signpost along the way of this new path I’m navigating. And that is, money and things are not inherently bad. There’s nothing wrong with them if they make us happy. It’s when they rule our lives, cause us to do things just to acquire more of them, and throw our perspective out of whack, that they’re a problem.
So, while Tom Shadyac chose to sell his home and belongings and begin biking to work, I don’t need to go to that extreme. I can still walk this inspired path, being led by my heart and service, and creating the kind of world I want my children to grow up in. A world that is not about MORE, MORE, MORE just to prove we’re good enough, or better than, or worthy. But a world where we do what makes us happy.
As for me, I’ve decided keep the Lexus, bruised fender and all.
Have you ever struggled with this question or one similar?
If so, I’d love to know I’m not alone. Please post a comment and share!