A week ago I was on the East Coast for a few meetings. One of my flights was cancelled and the closest I could get was to Washington DC, which was going to oblige me to drive to Pennsylvania to meet with Rite Aid. One way cars are the most expensive ones to rent, and as it happened on Hotwire, the cheapest car to get was a luxury model. On arriving they offered me a Cadillac with no CD player- or a huge Lincoln. I wondered if I could downgrade. Then this sweet guy says, “Just you wait right here, I have the car for you…. nicest car this place has….” A few minutes later he pulls up this beautiful black Mercedes which had 4500 miles on it.
I got in the car trying to act normal. I was trying to find the place to plug in my phone charger and pushed the road side assistance button. The car was so beautiful I was afraid to drive it. It took me 20 minutes of sitting in that rental lot to remember that it was just a car and that I could drive it. Cruising around the Washington monument on my way out of Washington DC I wondered how long it would take me to get used to driving a car like this one. It was like velvet on the road.
At my first stop in Baltimore, MD where I was meeting with my scientific board lead advisor and friend Richard Cone who has brought a whole new level of scientific inquiry and development to Good Clean Love, I was nervous. Not nervous to see him, but nervous to park the Mercedes. Relieved to see a valet on duty, I asked, “Are you sure the car will be OK?” What had gotten into me? Who owned whom? That Mercedes owned me….
I wanted to keep driving it for the short time it was mine and I was also happy to let it go. The next day, on my way to meet the lovely lead buyers at Rite Aid, I realized how our stuff comes to own us. It was my son who prompted this recognition with a story he shared of how greed and deception destroyed a company he knew of. It wasn’t need that drove this greed, it was the fact that we don’t really understand how valuable our integrity is; how priceless is our ability to trust ourselves is in life.
When we become untrustworthy in the world, we cannot trust ourselves.
So here I was driving this beautiful black Mercedes through the countryside of Pennsylvania, all the time a little on edge, kind of nervous about something happening to the car and it occurs to me that having too much wealth is really a burden, not a freedom. I pray for abundance, love, well being and wealth, community and belonging every day. I visualize soaking, being buoyant in those experiences. But I think they have to come together for them to hold us up.
Money and the luxury it can buy is only one small part to a life well lived and joyful. I have been thinking about looking for a used Mercedes since I left that car in the lot last week, but then I got home to my beat up and reliable Prius that I never worry about for a second and wondered if I was ready to care so much about my car. Not yet.