I have always loved the story of the Velveteen Rabbit. But I read it again to my kids the other day and this quote made me love it again, with new understanding. I have always desired to be "real". Not necessarily how this book describes it- I've done a lot of things to try and be real. I've traveled the world, partied really hard, given my heart away to numerous people, rebelled against my parents, smoked like a chimney for a while, and on and on. None of my own things ever worked out well for me, until I let someone really love me....mainly my husband.
Being loved hurts, cuz it means that you have to love back, be vulnerable, and let people see the ugly parts of you. I still struggle with being Real. I agree with the Skin Horse...being Real is something you become, over a long, long time. I'm thankful that I am letting myself become and at the same time, thankful that it doesn't happen all at once.
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?"
"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 the 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.