Friday, July 20, 2012

Becoming Real

      ""What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day. . . "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 things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." "

-From The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

One week from today is opening night for our ballet performance of The Velveteen Rabbit. I have loved the process of getting to play the Rabbit. Dancing is simply another outlet that satisfies a hunger for story. I am amazed by the path followed and emotions experienced in this story about toys becoming real. Here's the tale as it is told in our ballet version from my Rabbit point of view. . . .  

I am given to the Girl on Christmas morning and my eyes are opened to a new world.
I am bullied by most of the nursery toys, then encouraged by the Skin Horse.
I enjoy fun and mischief while playing with the Girl.
I am delighted by our bedtime fun, then scared and annoyed by her nightmares.
I am happy and imaginative as we go on a picnic.
I grow wistful when I see real rabbits, ashamed of having no hind legs, and long to jump with them.
I am loved by the Girl and finally accepted by the toys.
I worry about the Girl when she has scarlet fever and am desperate for her recovery.
I am relieved when she is better, then devastated when I am proclaimed dirty and taken away.
I am crushed and reflective while on the trash heap.
I am comforted by the Skin Horse and turned Real.
I am joyful and excited to meet all the other real rabbits.
I am shocked to see the Girl again, a little older now, and overjoyed when she recognizes me. 

The story now feels like my alternate life. After all, it is about a simple being who longs to be accepted and loved for the essence of who he (or she) is. To be totally real. Though it sounds strange put so simply, I wonder if that isn't the goal nestled deep in my own heart. In all hearts. 

Also, just as in life, it takes work to actually become. As the Skin Horse said, it takes a long time. It takes others that can see who you really are. And, as the Skin Horse said, it sometimes hurts. It definitely does in the story. The moment when the Rabbit is dragged from the Girl is heartbreaking. Then when I lie on the trash heap, I feel like shedding a torrent of tears. But this pain is only heavy because of all the joy that's come before it. If love had never been known, its loss would not be grieved. As the Skin Horse enters the scene, much more ethereal now, I shed the tears. Off comes layers of sadness and worry and despair. I am totally stripped of complications. Only then do I, the Rabbit, become Real.

This leaves me with hope. Hope that spectacular love exists. Hope that joy is worth the pain. Hope that tears have the power to heal. Hope that we can all, one day, become real. 

Blessed stories to you~ Megan

1 comment:

tinuviel said...

Such wise words from one so young! I am thrilled for the opportunity you and your sisters have to translate the familiar story into a new medium. Glory to God through you all.