When I was in college, I bought a Rolex. In the week or so that I waited for it to come in the mail, I got really excited about the idea that I was going to have a Rolex. To me, someone who had a Rolex was a different type of person, simply because he bought a fancy watch.
The watch showed up, and it was obviously a fake. I took it to a jeweler, just in case, and he confirmed what I already knew.
But by then it was too late. In my head, I was a Rolex type of guy. So I bought another one– a real one this time.
I loved my Rolex. I held it up to my ear to hear it tick. When I was bored in class, I’d watch the second hand’s precise bursts to the next second.
But I was still the same person. No one even realized I had a Rolex– or cared– except for one creepy guy at a party who also had one.
That was one of many reminders in my life that you can’t buy your way into being someone interesting. Even if we ooh and aah over someone’s new car or gadget, our subconscious isn’t fooled. Deep down we know that purchases don’t define us, despite advertisers’ promises.
I eventually lost my Rolex, and it didn’t matter.
The one thing that defines us is what we do with our time. For a few years I was a pickup artist. The clothes or cars I bought during that time have come and gone, and no one cares about them. The same is even true of the mansion we all lived in out in Hollywood. No one cared that we lived there. But to this day, seven or eight years after I was actively trying to pick up girls, I’m still known to a lot of people as a pickup artist.
I was recently at a party with some people I hadn’t seen in a while. Each one asked me about traveling. Where had I been recently? Any plans to go anywhere soon? For a couple years I traveled around the world as a nomad, and now that defines me as well.
A lot of people have the equation backwards. They do boring things so that they can have enough money to purchase what they think is extraordinary, and try to stand out that way. But it doesn’t work. We all know that status symbols are just symbols, and we instinctively try to peel back that layer of a person to figure out what they’re really about.
When you find out that there’s nothing behind the Bentley, it’s a let down. When you find out a really interesting person doesn’t have a Bentley, you don’t care. Material goods don’t count.
That’s not to say that money doesn’t matter. I think money is great. It’s just a question of how to spend it. You can spend it on experiences that will become a part of you, or you can spend it on Chinese made items with luxury brand names on them.
Really sorry I missed last week’s post. No good excuse for it… I haven’t stuck to my schedule while traveling and I lost track of what day it was.
Some big updates are coming to SETT. A new editor and a bunch of fixes should be ready within the next few days, and a new layout with a sidebar and some other cool stuff will be up within 7-10 days.