I grew up an only child in suburban Los Gatos, California. One of my closest friends, Maria, came from a large, warm, rambunctious Chilean family. I envied the love that seemed to surround her. Maria’s most cherished possession was her bicycle. She rode it everywhere and took very good care of it. She had such a passion for that bike that she learned everything about how it worked and what it needed, and eventually got a job repairing bikes for other people. The love she felt for her bike made it glow—made it seem like the most desirable object on earth.
I wanted that same feeling. In fact, I wanted to feel even more of it than she did. I figured that if I bought a better bike than hers, my bike would glow even more. So I begged my mom to buy me one that was top-of-the line. But somehow the glow eluded me. I rarely rode it, and its presence in my garage began to feel vaguely reproachful, a thorn in my side. I almost came to hate it. In my mind, this was definitely the bike’s fault.
One day, Maria’s beloved bike was stolen. She borrowed mine and rode it everywhere. To my amazement, it began to have the same magical glow I had so envied in her old bike. Naturally, I wanted it back. But once I got it, I still didn’t really feel like riding it, and it soon resumed its accusatory sulk in my garage. It refused to glow for me.
A lot of people approach looking for love as I approached bike shopping. We want a top-of-the-line model. We have a list of desirable qualities and imagine that the glow of desire will arise when we find someone who possesses those qualities. If love is absent from our lives, we may believe it is because we have not yet encountered someone sufficiently lovable. We are expecting our love to be activated by the object of desire.
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