How real are you? Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Tuesday, 18 March 2008 02:00

If your life were a genre, what would it be? A melodrama, thriller, comic, who-done-it, love story, a classic or what? I think mine would be a fable. The kind with talking animals, mermaids, weeping trees, genies, goddesses, flying carpets and magical caves.

Sounds sickly sweet to you? Okay, then make it talking carpets and flying mermaids. I guess it’s the challenge to acceptable ‘reality’ that’s the great appeal here. Have you ever read Richard Bach’s book ‘One’? It’s about alternate realities, parallel lifetimes. The theory is that for every single choice you’ve made in life, some part of you made another choice and carried on with an alternate life.

So, somewhere out there you can expect to find a ‘you’ who married her very first boyfriend, promptly produced eight offspring and spent her youth wiping runny noses and butts. Then there’s another you who veered off at a different crossroad. She has 17 cats, wears slippers all day and eats ice cream straight from the tub. Lots of it. Or how about the ‘you’ who never even saw the crossroad. She’s still sitting in that one-bedroom flat you had in Sunnyside, stuck at the very first job you had.

But then there’s also the ‘you’ who’s roughing it in a reed hut on the Mozambican coast. How do you know that you’re the real ‘you’ - the one you were supposed to be? And if you suspect that you’re not, how do you become real? Of course I found the answer in a fable. It’s called ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’, written in 1927 by Margery Williams. It goes like this:

On Christmas morning a little boy got a velveteen rabbit in his stocking. It was a beautiful toy, all fat and bunchy in the right places, pink nose, fluffy coat and cute little tail. But, the boy didn’t play with it. The rabbit became obsessed with becoming real. All his conversations with the wise old Skin Horse were about becoming real.

And this is what the Skin Horse said to him:“Real isn’t how you are made. 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.”

“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.”

For toys to become real, they must be loved by a child. For you to become real, you must love yourself, your life, this turn you’ve taken at the crossroad. You must so fully be this ‘you’ that the pink rubs of your nose, you lose your whiskers and your tail starts hanging skew. Trying to come out of this life with your ears still nicely lined in sateen, you’ll surely miss becoming real.

Sometimes this hurts. But it doesn’t matter at all because, as the Skin Horse said, “Once you are real, you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”



© 2020 Die/The Bronberger