“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you … It doesn’t happen all at once, 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 people who don’t understand.”
One of my favourite books as a child was The Velveteen Rabbit. I received an email recently with this excerpt from it and now I feel compelled to read it again as an adult. That’s an exercise everyone should do – read a childhood book with the eyes of an adult and the benefit of some life experience. It’s amazing the lessons you learn that were never relevant or obvious the first-time round! Green Eggs & Ham, The Places You’ll Go (both Dr Seuss) as two great examples!
The types of books we read and the media we watch, often reflect parts of who we are and also our beliefs.
If I take two favourite books ‘Oscar the Grouch’ and ‘The Dream’, as examples from my son’s childhood, his two sides become obvious and give insight in to who he would become. Ben was so passionate about life, the environment and particular causes, with a cheeky, lovable and fun loving ‘Oscar’ side to him. His incredible desire to learn and always know more stayed with him. I suppose the last year or two he was getting more from online resources than museums and books – the world was changing, and this was how it was progressing.
It’s amazing how the world seems to re-organise around us as we ‘become’, and we are often only aware of these changes when we look back. In today’s society, the force to change seems more obvious, probably due to technology. In all areas we are continually challenged to modify and adapt and have no other choice than to do things differently. It is not always easy, and yet it is inevitable.
So, I read the excerpt this week and I wondered if it didn’t have a lot to do with resilience and life experiences as well as being loved. There is lot of information about ‘self-love’ out there and I must admit, I have always found this topic a bit airy fairy (some may read confronting) and chose not to participate.
I realise however that if I change the title to, Self-confidence, Self-awareness, Strength, Empowerment, Continual Learning, these headings make the subject a lot more palatable and sit much better with me than ‘self-love’. I just had to find another way to call it, while still getting the same result. Maybe we sometimes actively look for change, for us to get through what we know we need to?
Every day we are reminded how the world is made up of many different kinds of people. Those who break easily, or have sharp edges, and those who have to be treated carefully. We learn in order to live happily together we need to meet people where they are at and occasionally re-name subjects. After a time, we care less what others think about us. It is less important that your hair is falling out or you’re a bit looser in the joints because you have found something much more precious and important in life.
So, for someone impatient and fairly headstrong, it’s a bitter pill to swallow that growth takes time. To use the old cliché which is just as annoying – It’s a journey not a destination and we cannot do it alone. Love means taking risks and becoming vulnerable, potentially getting hurt and humans miss a fundamental part of themselves and the bigger picture without it. Reading and learning new things needs to be prioritised and we are so much better for making it a priority. And, it’s okay to re word ideas, and re phrase stories and lessons to ‘sit better with us’ as long as we get the same desired outcome. We also need to meet ourselves where we are at.