Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always. ~Margery Williams
I’ve had the Velveteen Rabbit on my mind a lot recently (I recently even purchased a copy of the book both for myself, and as a birthday gift for our 3-year old niece along with a stuffed velveteen rabbit of her own) and so I was inspired to post this excerpt from “Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” by Sarah Ban Breathnach and “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams. I posted something similar a few years ago, but it just simply doesn’t get old in my book.
“On Christmas morning the bunny sitting in the top of the Boy’s stocking with a sprig of holly between his paws looked quite splendid. He was fat and bunchy in all the right places, with a soft, spotted white-and-brown coat, thread whiskers, and ears lined in pink sateen. The Boy was enchanted and played with the rabbit for two whole hours until family directed his attention to all the other wonderful parcels lying under the tree “and in the excitement of looking at all the new presents the Velveteen Rabbit was forgotten.”
For a long time, the bunny remained just another plaything in the nursery. But he didn’t mind because he was able to carry on long, philosophical discussions with the old Skin Horse who was very old, wise, and experienced in the strange ways of nursery magic. One of the rabbit’s favorite topics of conversation was on becoming “Real.” Here is the heart of Margery Williams’s mystical tale of the transformative power of love, The Velveteen Rabbit, written in 1927.
The Skin Horse patiently explained to the bunny that “Real isn’t how you are made. 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.”
Becoming Real doesn’t happen overnight to toys or people. “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.”
In order for toys to become Real, they must be loved by a child. In order for us to become Real, we must become lovers of real life in all its complexity and uncertainty. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, we long to become Real, to know what authenticity feels like. Sometimes this hurts. The thought of losing our whiskers and having our tail come unsewn is frightening. In a world that judges by appearances, it’s embarrassing having all the pink rubbed off your nose. The Velveteen Rabbit isn’t alone in wishing to become Real without any uncomfortable or unpleasant things happening.
One of the ways that we become Real without too much discomfort is by growing gradually into our authenticity. As you learn to acknowledge, accept, and appreciate what it is that makes you different from all the other toys in the cupboard, the process begins. As you learn to trust the wisdom of your heart and make creative choices based on what you know is right for you, process becomes progress. As you learn to endow even the smallest moment of each day with Love, progress becomes reality perfected. Your black-button eyes might have lost their polish, but now these windows to the soul see only beauty. You become not only Real to those who know and love you, but Real to everyone. You become authentic.”