Relationships That Allow You To Become Real


At the basis of all of our meaningful relationships, be they as parents, pairs, lovers, children or friends, lies the question as to the degree to which we feel – in a particular relationship – a sense of authenticity, loyalty, and an approval within that relationship to explore and express the many levels of our feelings – an atmosphere in which we can be or become “real.”

Very few pieces of literature explore the complexities of human relationships, one’s relationship to Universe and the challenges of feeling authentic in a rapidly changing world as simply and poetically as the children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams.

“The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. 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?” 

“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 yourpetra 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.”   Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit, 1922

An allegory about the meaning of love, The Velveteen Rabbit is a story to be revisited regardless of our age. If you do not have a copy, the story can be found narrated here by Meryl Streep to the beautiful background music of George Winston. In its 25 minute length your path from childhood to how real you feel you have become can be revisited.