As I was reading my book the other night (“Daring Greatly” by author/researcher Brene Brown), I came across a quote that I absolutely loved:
“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.”
*Excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Although it has been quite a long time since I’ve read the story of The Velveteen Rabbit, this passage truly touched me. Growing up and even today, I’ve always had stuffed animals (even a blankey). I remember when I was little my mom would always say, “Allie, what are you going to do when you go to college? Bring your blankey with you?”. Well…that’s exactly what I did. I brought him along for the 4 year ride.
To me, this passage hits home. I have given my stuffed animals and blankey so much love and affection over the years, that they are worn, tattered, ripped, etc. One of their noses has fallen off, and of course I’ve taken the liberty to superglue it back on. Fact is, I’ll never give them up for as long as I live. And you can bet that no matter what, there will always be an animal of some sort in my bed that I sleep with.
But what makes this passage even more profound to me, is the fact that it also alludes to humans in love. Sometimes, it hurts to be loved. We are worn, tattered, and scarred from the love we’ve received, and in the end, it only makes us more real. It only makes us more beautiful. Not everybody can accept being loved. They are fragile and meek, and would prefer to be left unscathed. They may not look damaged or worn, but that is because they are not real. They have not gone through the one human experience that sets the real apart from the unreal. They are afraid to be vulnerable. They are afraid to be tossed around from the tempestuous emotion that is love. The incredibly sought after, yet infinitely feared emotion. They are not willing to be tattered from the wounds of love, and they’ll never understand the beauty inherent in feeling this sense of “realness”.
But those who are real don’t mind that it hurts. We are eager to be tattered and worn. We are eager to be shabby.