My face felt wet from the liquid mist covering the coastline where I followed 17 Mile Road riding my bike with two of my very best friends. Good men. We rode from the sleepy town of Carmel to the more happening and tourist trap of Monterrey, California. The ride was nothing short of spectacular taking in the ocean coastline with its brilliant white sand beaches contrasted against black-green craggy rocks and circular tide pools.
Outcroppings of strewn boulders formed rocky perches for slender necked black birds. Years of excrement had turned their perch into a whitewashed stone throne from where they gather and oversee their world. As I rode by all this, the ocean mist was forming salt residue on my glasses and I had to periodically stop and clean them so I wouldn’t miss the priceless beauty I was so fortunate to be seeing today.
Of course this is ocean front property, ocean views with colors and textures that only the naked eye can truly capture. Photographs and paintings cannot hold the depth of the beauty I was enjoying on this ride with my buddies. And then I found myself distracted.
As I was riding, I was looking at homes that resembled castles more than houses. Beautiful old stone shale, intricately placed one on top of the other, forming stunning sun and earth hued walls that leapt from their rocky cliff base high up into the sky. Giant glass windows interrupted the stacked pattern of shale to provide the person looking out a constant view into this visual wonder of creation.
One house after the next, each one more spectacular than the one that just preceded it, gated the pristine ocean shoreline. Four million, seven million, 10 million, and probably 40 million dollars for the grandest of them all, stood guard as pompous royalty over this stretch of magnificent coast. I found myself filled with lust and wanted to be master of one these dwelling places. And that lust and want quickly turned on me, accusing and asking what is wrong with me that I am not?
After 15 min of this mental discourse I realized I was creating a story that was a lie. It was a story that dis-empowered myself. I am a healthy, active man who was bicycling many miles along a beautiful God-infused coast line with men who have loved and supported me over many years, in ways that have brought out the very best in me.
This mis-directed self-conversation had me missing moments of priceless beauty around me, where man and creation can connect. And this was free for my taking as long as I chose to receive it. I was in the companionship of men who have modeled integrity, authenticity, and love from the very first day I met them. To be called friend by these men was worth more to me, made me richer, than any ownership of stone and glass shaped into these beautiful homes could ever give me.
Do I think having beautiful, expensive homes is a bad thing? Absolutely not. What I realized however at the end of my inner turmoil is the need to have my soul fed, both in connection with beauty around me and in relationships that connect me. I have this, and it has made me rich in ways money never would be able.
So on this particular day, I became aware of the danger of “want”. The subtle way it can whisper accusations of not being good enough, of not measuring up, and how, if one allows himself to believe that lie, robs all appreciation of real wealth. Instead of self-flagellation, I chose to believe the truth about myself in that moment: I am a man who walks in integrity among other men, maintains strong friendships, and understands how to connect with the world around me.
In my core, I want for nothing.