These lines in the “children’s” book The Velveteen Rabbit are about becoming Real:
It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or 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.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit
These lines always bring tears to my eyes and longing to my heart.They are filled with Truth and Hope. It takes a long time to grow into yourself and I am still growing and becoming more “shabby” as my years add up. For a lot of my life I have been one of those “… people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept “ I drove myself to maintain a body that I thought was ugly or attractive depending on my feelings in the moment. My heart was guarded by porcupine quills, but I still got shattered and broken many times. I broke into pieces like Humpty Dumpty.
My years on this planet don’t, by default, make me Real, I do have loose joints, eye problems and shabby wrinkles. My angst over outward beauty, adoration or perfection is now just a whimper from my ego. Getting to “I don’t care.” is so freeing. I wear cargo pants, and now comfort is my primary criteria for foot wear. I don’t care! If Real is my destination, then I know I must take the bumpy, winding road of experience and learning. When we don’t learn from our experiences we can’t be Real. Denying reality or refusing to change means we can’t allow learning or love into our lives. Loving and being loved are both requirements for becoming Real.
I know “It takes a long time.” to become Real, but I believe there are moments that can put us on the fast track to Real. These moments like birth and death transcend time, a split second that is years long. My awe at the beauty in the world and my grief and despair in the face of losses are both necessary to “become” Real. My baby’s first cry or Roger’s last breath were moments that cut thru years of protecting myself. In those moments, I became more Real by allowing myself to feel vulnerable and open.
Living with love has been joyful and piercing with pain. Tyler’s graduation events were many and he invited me to be a part of them. I was honored. I got “damp”a couple of times in rain showers, so looked like a grouchy wet cat. (Sideline : Grumpy cat passed away, he will be missed.) I got shabby looking by the end of the day, but those shared fist pumps “Yes!” were very Real. I thought I would fade away when Roger died, but like Roger I was able to transcend some of my earthly limitations. I became stronger and more compassionate.
My sister is dying of cancer and she is horribly thin, gaunt, and weak. She is beautiful. She is loved. She is Real.