“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “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?” asked the Rabbit.”Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, 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,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“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.” – The Velveteen Rabbit
“What is real?” asked the Rabbit. One of my favorite questions of one of my favorite stories. And a very good question. In this day and age of bigger is better, plastic rules and superficial is best…does Real exist? Yes, At least I think so. To me to be real means our experiences have made us deep enough people to understand what is truly important in life.
The problem, I think, is that by the time we are real, we have lived, been loved, unloved, hurt and roughed up to the point where we are a bit shabby. We’re not new and shiny any more. Sometimes we feel that we have lost our worth – after all, how could anyone love a worn out little rabbit? And someone may have to look past all the roughness to see what real really means.
I think it means that you have a real heart, you have been through enough to know, through experience, what is right, wrong and in between. Living through those experiences teaches us compassion, empathy, how to love and so much more. It makes us a better, deeper person.
What about the shabby parts? Well, I guess that depends on your definition of shabby. To me it’s nothing on the outside. It’s a heart that is so closed it can no longer let love and light in. Maybe we all get a little shabby…but just like the Skin Horse said, you can only be ugly to those who do not understand.
So, the key is to find someone who can see through our shabbyness, our weary-ness to see the beauty of our Realness. Someone that can love us anyway. But being shabby and a little worn is ok. I have often said that it is our scars and flaws that make us our most human, most beautiful…and most Real.