Sunday, January 16, 2011

Real Friends and Skin Horses

She tossed the magazine down on the counter and exclaimed, "Look! Who looks like that...really! No one is that perfect!"

Airbrushed image!

Our culture saturates us with image. We are consumed with it. We are image dependent, image conscious, and image driven. William Shakespeare said, "God has given you one face, and you make yourself another." If we're not careful we will add this, and remove that, until we have clipped and cropped ourselves away in the name of image. We will get so good at aspiring to the image that we will lose our real identity. 

Being real is not about image, but what is real? Real is being authentic, transparent, and sincere. It only happens when we are willing to be ourselves without the luxury of image. Real happens when we are authentic enough not to hide who we are, brave enough to  allow others to see inside, and sincere enough to be honest with ourselves.  

Becoming real and remaining real hurts. It means that we will be judged by those who do not understand, and  betrayed by those who are looking for the image of what they want us to be. There are those who would like to make us feel that we are insignificant, that because we do not conform to the image we are somehow less. 

The road to real is not an easy journey but it is well worth the travel, and it only takes one real friend to help us to become real. I hope you have found your real friend just as a very famous rabbit did.

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." 

"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 you 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 happened 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.
~~ The Velveteen Rabbit

God bless our real friends, the 'skin horses' in our lives.


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