Becoming Real

“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 people who don’t understand.” Margery Williams Bianco

Who knew that Maurice Sendak of Where-the-Wild-Things-Are fame once illustrated the tender children’s story of a well-loved rabbit?

More on “realness” by Ronald Rolheiser:

“Rarely do we genuinely share how we really feel, what our fears are, and how difficult it is to be who we are. Rarely do we admit anyone into our inner space where fear, struggle and inadequacy make themselves felt. We all go through life posturing strength, pretending; lying really, giving off the impression that all is easy and that friendship, health, achievement and attractiveness are easeful and automatic. Our weakness and fears, much more so than our achievements and successes, drive us inward and put us in touch with what is deepest, softest and most worthwhile within the heart.

Because of this, we go through life trying to impress others into liking us. Rather than sharing ourselves as we really are – vulnerable, tender, struggling, full of fear – we try to be so sensational that there can be no possible reason not to love us.  Like the inhabitants of Babel, we try to build a tower that is so impressive that we overpower others. The result for us, as the result then, is counterproductive.  Because of pretence, we go through life “speaking different languages,” that is, unable to find a common meeting ground upon which to understand each other. Understanding takes place through compassion and compassion is itself the fruit of shared vulnerability. Thus, so long as we hide our struggles and fears, we will not find intimacy.

It is only when we see each other’s fears and struggles that we become real to each other.  The threads of compassion and a concomitant intimacy will appear automatically when we present ourselves as we really are, without false props, as tender.”

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