Recently I broke a tooth so immediately phoned to make an appointment to see the dentist. The first question the receptionist asked me was ‘which tooth?’ and I could answer that easily. The next question was more difficult: ‘is it one of your own teeth?’ Hearing my hesitation she asked: ‘Well is it one of your own, a crown or bridge?’ I was embarrassed to confess that I didn’t know the answer. It had been in my mouth so long that whether it was real or fake no longer mattered. And nor could I distinguish.
And this happens in so many areas of our lives. We lose track of our authentic selves. Our essence becomes clouded through society’s expectations and our adaptation to them. The big question then becomes, how do we become real again? A possible solution lies in ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ first published in 1922. I remember reading this story as a child and continue to read it to my grandchildren. The message is powerful.
The Velveteen Rabbit
By: Margery Williams Bianco
Illustrated by: Monique Felix
From: New Frontier Publishing – www.newfrontier.com.au – ISBN0975089633
…….. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
‘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 often happen 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 thing 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?’ said the Rabbit. 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 Boy’s Uncle made me Real,’ he said. ‘That was a great many years ago: but once your are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.’
The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happed 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.
…….. Autumn passed and Winter, and in the Spring, when the days grew warm and sunny, the Boy went out to play in the wood behind the house. And while he was playing, two rabbits crept out from the bracken and peeped at him. One of them was brown all over, but the other had strange marking’s under his fur as though long ago he had been spotted, and the spots still showed through. And about his little soft nose and his round black eyes there was something familiar, so that Boy thought to himself:
‘Why, he looks just liked my old Bunny that was lost when I had scarlet fever!’
But he never knew that it really was his own Bunny, come back to look at the child who had first helped him to be Real.
I believe there is no easy way for us to become real again.
The above story included a fairy who made Rabbit “real” again by transforming him into a live rabbit living playfully in the woods with other live rabbits. In our lives there are many things that we personally can do to become real again and they don’t include a fairy or magic. But a good coach can help.
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