I WAS DEFINED BY MY CONSUMPTION
He was convinced that the guy knew who I was. In an effort to describe me to his friend, he began defining me by things. Yep, that's right… things. Things like the car that I drove, the watch that I wore, and the types of clothes that I owned. Apparently this is how people saw me. I was defined more by what I consumed than what I contributed. That was a wake up call for me.The wake up call that I referenced above took place several years ago right around the time of one of my milestone birthdays. I was having a big blow out birthday party with one of my good friends at the Versace Mansion in South Beach. It was his 35th and my 40th. We cleverly branded this event as 35/40! But I digress (The party was legendary though).
It was right around the time leading up to my 40th birthday that I recall a friend of mine sharing the story with me about describing me to someone who he was convinced knew who I was. He goes on to share with me, (with a sense of pride almost), that after rattling of several items that I possessed, he was successful in his efforts. The person responded with that oh so familiar… “Oh yeah; I now who you’re talking about now.” It was at that moment that I knew things had to change - literally and figuratively.
I had gotten to a point in my life where I was known more for what I consumed in this world than for what I contributed to it. And it’s not that I didn't make any meaningful contributions; the truth of the matter though, is that I had begun to define myself by the things that I had. I was more focused on what I could get out of life that what I could give to enhance the lives of others. So why wouldn't others see me through that same lens?
I don't even know if my friend that shared that story with me even knows this, but my life changed right then and there. I made a decision to be intentional about my contributions in life.
I realize now that I had allowed myself to get so caught up in the process, that I confused the process with the purpose. Here’s what I mean by that…
Consumption is necessary in life. We have to consume things in order to survive and even to provide. We need food, clothes, homes, and other things. And don't get it twisted… I still like nice things. I’m extremely grateful for the nice home that I have the nice car that I’m able to drive and the other nice things that I’m able to enjoy. I understand now though, that consumption is simply a part of the process, while contribution is ultimately the purpose.
We are all here to contribute in some way. That is our purpose for being on this earth - to make a contribution in some way to enhance the lives of others. Consumption is the process that enables us to deliver on our purpose. The things that we are able to consume and acquire are simply tools and resources that serve as the channels and mechanisms through which our purpose should be expressed.
If I can leave with anything from my experience it’s this… Don't get so caught up in your process of consumption, that you neglect your purpose of contribution. Because when it’s all said and done, you want to be known more for what you’ve contributed to this world than for what you were able to consume from it.