This morning I was hanging out with my friend Carolyn and had the urge to read the Velveteen Rabbit story. (I bought it as a gift for some friends who were having a baby, but never gave it to them. And now I think I’m going to keep it for myself indefinitely.)
Anyways, in the middle of the story Carolyn stopped me and said, “This is NOT a children’s story.” And she’s right. Unless, of course, you realize that we are all children and stories are the best means of teaching us about life.
An excerpt from the book:
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Sometimes.” For he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or who have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are Real?” And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.
He, like the Skin Horse (and – sorry if this ruins the ending for you – like the Rabbit becomes) is Real.
It’s the journey we are all on; the journey to be loved into Realness.
It’s an uncomfortable, sometimes painful process. It’s a process that makes us wiser and deeper.
And, like this children’s story teaches us, it’s the only way to life that’s Real.
(…I think I’m only beginning to embrace the reality that I am the Rabbit – sighing, feeling like Real is so very far away…)