Michael called and explained that he’d experienced an intervention, attended a great many Real Love groups, read most of the Real Love books, and participated in many conference calls. “But I’m still not happy,” he said. “I don’t understand it.”
“I’ve known you for a while,” I said, “and at one time you were happy. It was obvious. What happened?”
“I don’t know.”
“How often do you meet in person with a wise man, to feel connected in an emotionally intimate way?”
“Well . . .”
“Been a long time?”
“Yeah, I suppose it has.”
“How many times in the past thirty days have you had a call of any meaningful length with a wise person?”
There was a long pause. “I used to, but not lately.”
Many years ago—when he was in his early twenties—my brother used to buy a used car every year or so, and on each occasion the engine completely failed in some way. I thought that was an unusual rate of complete breakdown, so I asked him how often he changed the oil in his engine.”
He wrinkled his forehead and said, “Oil?”
Although my brother had purchased several cars, he’d never known that changing oil was a desirable feature of engine maintenance. This is not unlike people who read some Real Love books, or attend a few conference calls, but then do nothing to maintain whatever love they find.
Cars require regular attention to oil, fuel, and more. People require maintenance of similar or greater diligence. We’re worth it. So are our partners, children, and friends.
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