What Makes Something Real?

As children, there are many stories that we are told from classic fairy tales, to cherished fables read from grandparent, to parent to child, and so on.   Although I didn’t read this book until I was in my 20’s, “The Velveteen Rabbit” touched me so deeply, that I often feel the need to return to it again and again as a source of inspiration and simple truth.

Written by Margery Williams, and originally published in 1922, The Velveteen Rabbit (or how toys become real) has been a gift to many who have lovingly turned its pages and absorbed its message.  At my wedding, I chose excerpts from this book in lieu of traditional readings.  There were very few things I was concerned about that day in terms of how things were done, but this was one of them.   When you put it in this context, it becomes a deeply loving sentiment about love :    “What is REAL?” asks the Velveteen Rabbit.  The Skin Horse, another nursery toy, gives him the answer.  He tells him that ‘real’ isn’t something you’re made of, it’s something you become when a child loves you for a very long time.  The Rabbit then asks if it hurts.  The Skin Horse replies, “Sometimes…when you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.”   But the part that touches me the most, is when he tells the Rabbit that when you are ‘real,’ you can never be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. 

If it’s one thing we all share, is the fear of being discovered for who we really are.  Successful or otherwise, each of us secretly harbors the thought that somewhere we are phony, frauds, and if anyone knew who we really are, they wouldn’t like us anymore.  This fear comes with the human experience, and isn’t something any of us is immune to.  How many times have you had a conversation in which you were listening and nodding because you didn’t want to admit you didn’t know what the person was talking about?  How many times did you have to change your clothes before leaving the house because you wanted to make the perfect impression- even though what you were wearing made you feel uncomforable in your own skin?  All through our lives, we coat ourselves in layer after layer to be what we think others expect us to be.   This is where the loss of our true identity starts.  Seeking approval is normal human behavior, so is wanting to be accepted and conforming for that purpose.  What we lose in that process is the confidence and the light within us that suddenly feels less than what it should be. 

In essence, we make ourselves ugly, because it’s not only the other people who don’t understand.  We no longer understand ourselves.  We spend our entire lives trying to get this back.  As a messenger for Spirit,  I’m here to nudge you to see that you are real, true and beautiful and to guide you to uncover the hidden parts that will help you find your way back to yourself.

I know that I’m not alone in my thinking.  Some of you may be able to push these feelings down far and deep enough that they don’t seem to resurface…but guess what?  They do, and they manifest in subtle ways that sabotage us at the most crucial moments.   A few years back, “The Secret,”  and a bunch of other books on the ‘law of attraction’ became wildly popular.  Hallelujah!  Our lives are saved.  All we need to do is change our thoughts and all will be well!  Just like wishing upon a shooting star!  Unfortunately, this seemingly positive revelation let a lot of people down.    What the law of attraction books out there don’t explain fully, is that in order to turn your life around, you need to lay down some ground work first.   You wouldn’t slap a new coat of paint on a car that’s been in a wreck and expect it to look like new again, right?  Shifting your entire train of thought isn’t an easy task.  You need to have the courage and tenacity to look at your life honestly and make changes to it in ways you have probably been avoiding for a very long time.   Your life doesn’t turn into a mess overnight, and it’s not going to become UN-messed overnight either.  Before you can bring in the new, you have to clean out the old, and guess what happens in the process?  Yes, you will cry, and you will probably become angry with yourself.   But the main thing you will find if you are brave enough to commit to this process, is YOU.  You’ll rediscover so many things about yourself you’d long forgotten.  You’ll remember childhood memories and what it felt like to do things for the first time.   And somewhere along the way you will remember the things in your life that gave you the greatest joy.   Then you’ll remember why you stopped doing them- and THIS IS THE ANSWER!   You may run yourself in circles as you go through this ‘cleaning’ process, but much like finding hidden treasures in the attic, you will begin to re-discover the REAL  you.  Then you can begin to repattern and reprogram based on the truth you’ve discovered.  Then ,the real work begins.

I like to think that I lead an ‘examined’ life.  As I go through my own life, I look at others and see myself in my many incarnations.  The ‘me’ that was afraid to speak in public, the ‘me’ that held back my feelings when I wasn’t sure that they would be returned, and the ‘me that I found so many years later that was there all along, finally moving toward my dreams and no longer afraid to be real.  Our greatest source of pain is sometimes self-inflicted.  I have so much admiration for people who have the courage to face disapproving eyes and say, ‘so what?’   It is true when they say that we are all mirrors for one another.   God gave us eyes that we may look upon others with compassion and understanding.  When I see another person in pain, it hurts me.  When I hear of someone who has lost a loved one, I share part of that loss with them.  Just the same, when I see someone who bullies another person, I see someone who has been hurt in some way, and is filled with a crippling fear that he will be looked upon as weak.  

Nothing is more beautiful and joyous than a person who basks in both the freedom and the fear of being their real self.  To reveal the beauty of one’s soul is to honor God.  For you are a tiny spark of the fire that is God.

It is always work to remember this while we are away from ‘Home’ but it has been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.  Embrace your fear, and watch it dissipate as you begin the journey of remembering that you have always been real.

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~ by healingstarspirit on March 11, 2010.

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