I am struck by this question. On most days, I setup my life to be a little safe, a little protected – maybe even a little fake. I’m not my true self. I hold back. But as Oscar Wilde says, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
It’s scary because we have nowhere to hide. No excuses to make. No mask to pose behind. When someone trades real life for simply existing, it looks like this –
We’re afraid of what people might think, how we might feel, or what we might lose. But all along the way, we’re left wanting – wishing we really lived, a little more.
The story is about toy rabbit’s quest to become real through the love of his young owner. This book is what realness is all about –
“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 you hair has been loved off, and you 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.
Becoming real means getting off the sidelines and into the game.
Though real is not easy, it is so much better than fake.
QUESTION: What does real life look like for you today?