Merrick recently said to me, “It seems like Real Love is boring.”
“Oh?” I replied. “How so?”
“It seems like Real Love says I’d have to give up all Imitation Love in order to be happy, but I LIKE too many Imitation Love things.”
“I love riding my motorcycle—fast. I like a glass of wine with dinner. I love watching movies. I like women.”
“And who said you’d have to give all that up?”
“You did. Your books did.”
“Maybe you read different books than I wrote. When we are empty and afraid, we tend to look for the tempering effects of praise, power, pleasure and safety. The Real Love book says these things become Imitation Love ONLY when we ‘pursue [them] as substitutes for Real Love.’ So it’s not pleasure itself—to name just one form of Imitation Love—that is potentially harmful. The problem lies in how we use it.
“Let’s take your racing your motorcycle, for example. I rode one for many years, so I know how fun it can be. If you do that to give you a sense of being alive—from a place of emptiness—or to minimize the pain of your life, it would be a form of Imitation Love. If you feel genuinely loved, however, riding a bike can be just plain fun.”
“How can I know the difference?” Merrick asked.
“Until you feel sufficiently loved—a condition you’re just beginning to experience—you really can’t know the difference. But the more loved you feel, the more you’ll know WHY you ride your bike. I’m sure there are times that you just feel frustrated or bored, so you ride fast to ‘clear your head’ or just to get some excitement—yes?”
“On those occasions, you’re filling your emptiness and using speed as a form of Imitation Love. No problem. Just recognize that you’re doing it, and as you feel loved you’ll gradually recognize that sometimes you’re riding just for fun—and probably you won’t be riding quite as fast. Often your motivations will be mixed. Part of you will be riding a motorcycle just for fun, and another part of you will be doing it for the fulfilling excitement. You don’t need to worry about the proportions of those motivations, only to be aware of them, for information. Don’t over analyze.”
“So I don’t have to give up fun?”
I laughed. “Do I strike you as boring?”
“No, you really don’t.”
“The vast majority of us do not feel sufficiently loved unconditionally, so it’s unavoidable that we use praise, power, pleasure, and safety. We use Imitation Love to build a house without a foundation—a house that is easily damaged. But with Real Love, we build a foundation that is strong and lasting. ON TOP of that foundation, we can then experience a wide variety of pleasures just for fun, not to fill our emptiness.”
“How do I know,” Merrick asked, “when I’m riding a motorcycle for fun or for artificial excitement?”
“Your first clue is the overall direction of your life at the time. If you’re still experiencing regular fear and anger, then almost certainly you’ll use excitement—whether on a motorcycle or with women, for example—as Imitation Love. Another sign is whether you NEED a particular activity or substance—like needing a drink after work to “take the edge off.” If you need something to reduce your anxiety, it’s likely that it’s a form of Imitation Love.
Life was meant to be fun. I would suggest, in fact, that if we’re not having fun, our perspectives are almost certainly distorted in some way: we have forgotten what is true and loving. As we feel loved and see clearly, everything naturally becomes more fun. As one woman said to me, “After finding love in my life, there is so much more of me available. I’m not consumed by fear, so now I can allow fun and creativity to flower.”
Replace your fear & confusion with peace and happiness.
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