Morgan called me to describe how unhappy he was with his life: marriage, kids, career, everything. I made some suggestions, but the next week when I talked to him, he hadn't done anything different.
"I seem to remember," I said, "that you told me that you were not happy with your life."
"Yes," he said.
"And yet you're not doing anything about it." Specifically, he hadn't attended his local Real Love group, nor had he made any phone or email contact with people in the Real Love community.
"I don't see how making a phone call will make any difference."
"You don't have to understand it. You just have to do it, because only then will you see what I'm talking about. I could explain it to you all day, but you wouldn't feel what it's like to be loved. You don't understand how an internal combustion engine works, either, but you still drive your car."
He committed to do more, but the next week he still hadn't done anything significant. He'd read a little in one of the books, but he'd made no contacts with people.
"So imagine," I said, "that you're living on the east side of a river. It's desolate. There is nothing to eat, no water, nothing green. It's barren and deadly."
"Sounds kind of like your life, doesn't it?"
"Yeah, it does."
"On the west side of the river everything is green and beautiful, and there is an abundance of food, both plant and animal. Naturally, you'd like to get to the other side."
"But the river is deep, swift, and cold. It's also the only way to the west side, where all the life is. You could dip your toe into the water all day—which is what you do by reading the Real Love books—but that won't even begin to get you to the other side. Eventually, you'll have to jump into the cold water and swim. You'll get cold, for sure. You'll probably be afraid. You might even feel like you're drowning."
"But I hate where I am, so the risks are worth it. I might die, but essentially I'm already dead where I am."
"You really are already dead. You have nothing to lose by swimming the river, but that doesn't mean the river won't still be cold. It will be strange too, and you'll have to let go of the side of the ground where you're standing. At times you'll be frightened, but the only way for you to get to the other side—the only way you can find the happiness you want—is to jump into the cold water and swim. You'll have to do things that are very unfamiliar and even uncomfortable. You'll have to attend groups and tell the truth about yourself. You'll have to make contacts with individuals by phone and in person, and some of them will not be loving, just as swimming in a river can be very difficult. Because of currents and turbulence, not every stroke you make will bring you closer to the opposite shore. So yes, I get the fear, but I also know that you'll have to be uncomfortable before you can find what you want."
"I can't do it."
"Sure you can. You may not want to do it, but you certainly can. You just have to eliminate that 'I can't' attitude and simply begin. Make one call. Then another. Then attend a group. And so on."
And so it is for us all. We all want our lives to be better, but we don't want any discomfort in the process—which is impossible. Jump in the cold water—and swim.