A wise mentor once told me this story. Some wise mentor told it to him. I hope you tell it to someone else. The story always changes a little. That is a good thing.
There was a man who had many things. He was well liked by the world since he was intelligent, eloquent, wealthy, handsome, and the world likes those things. He became popular. People asked him to be on committees. He spoke at meetings. He thought about running for office. The people asked him to do it.
He felt strange though. He'd invested a lot of time seeking the praise of the people. He was gone a lot. His kids grew older. His wife was lonely. His home life suffered.
He had little time to do anything for himself. He didn't have time to exercise. He stopped camping or taking walks or sitting in quiet contemplation.
He stopped talking to the Source. He couldn't find the time to do it. He couldn't attend public gatherings about the Source since he was always traveling to speak to the people.
He could feel himself growing cold and alone. He didn't understand why. He was always around people. It was a mystery to him.
He had an old mentor. He sincerely loved the man. He was wise, but not preachy. It seemed like he knew everything. He'd been busy, and had stopped dropping in, simply visiting for no other reason than to see each other. There hadn't been time.
The mentor called him, to see how he was doing, what was going on, how he was feeling.
The man clutched the phone eagerly. He was so happy to hear from him. He spoke for awhile, a long time really, in a flurry of words. The mentor asked him to visit him personally.
The man hesitated, but he felt so cold, that he thought it might lift his spirits, so he made the time. He penciled it into his calendar. He stared at it the entry. It made him sad that the entry was the only bright moment in his week.
The man arrived at his mentor's home. His mentor's wife hugged him, so glad to see him. She told him to go back to the family room. His mentor was there.
In the back, the mentor was smiling. He didn't say a word, but shook his hand and hugged him. It was cold in the room, very chilly, and the man could see his breath.
“Why is the house so cold?”, the man asked. “It's freezing in here”. The man chattered his teeth.
The mentor said nothing. He motioned for the man to sit, and started to build a fire. He started small, put the tinder in a tiny pile, struck a match, and lit it, and coaxed it into flame. He added sticks, and the caught, and the fire grew.
The man wondered why his mentor was silent. He watched quietly. He stared at his watch. He couldn't stay long. He needed to leave soon. He'd be late for a meeting. He tapped his foot. He began to grow impatient.
The mentor smiles at him. He nodded and winked his merry eyes. The man so hungry for friendship was grateful, but mystified at this meeting.
The mentor took his poker, and flicked out a coal. He did it deliberately, separating the coal from the rest of the fire. The coal burned for a time, it had been white hot, then red, then grew dim, then extinguished into a piece of black wood, incompletely burned.
The man stared at the coal. Fire was fascinating to watch for him. It had been a long time since he'd built his own fire. He watch the coal go out. He looked at his mentor, and the mentor nodded his head. A tear dropped from his mentor's eyes.
He hugged his mentor. He'd woken up. He said nothing, but stared into his mentor's eyes, and his eyes grew wet with his own tears. He left thanking him.
On his journey home, he thought about how the coal was like himself. He'd been expending all of his energy, sending it out, but in a futile attempt. The rest of the things which fed his own self, the bulk of the fire, the friends and family that sustained him, the Source that watched over him, the gathering of believers of the Source that renewed him, all had been forgotten.
He knew what he had to do.