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Becoming Real

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Becoming Real

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day…

“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 people who don’t understand.”

[Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit]

 

Real talk, straight out of a childhood favorite that I was reminded of while reading Brené Brown’s, Daring Greatly. Somehow I remember relating to the rabbit more than the Skin Horse even back then. It seems the challenge of being real–genuine, not artificial, authentic, “loved off”–has existed since the beginning. I suppose then the always truthful Skin Horse is right in his acknowledgement of realness being a, “becoming”.

In her book Brown stated this:

“When I look back on what I’ve learned about shame, gender, and worthiness, the greatest lesson is this: if we’re going to find our way out of shame and back to each other, vulnerability is the path and courage is the light. To set down those lists of what were supposed to be is brave. To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.”

 

There is that “v” word again. Vulnerability. Most of the time I feel like a tree in the winter afraid to shed its leaves, a mask collector in this crazy costume party known as life, a hoarder of all things comforting: decorative pillows, artisanal dark chocolate, long sivasanas, existential Rumi poems, old photographs, oversized clothing, essential oils. Achievements. Make-up. Time. Bollywood movies. The Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]. I’ve been staying carefully kept for quite some time.

During graduate school I taught an undergrad Science of Nutrition course. I’ll never forget the time I showed up at a local ice cream joint and was greeted by one of my students with a bonafide, “Busted!

How many times in your life have you been asked, “What do you want to be when you grown up?” We’ve been raised to define who we want to be, while existing in a culture of clones that expects us to be a very specific way. Be a dietitian, but don’t eat the ice cream. Do what you love but not if it isn’t making dollars and cents. Get married but not to a person of the same sex. Share your ideas and creativity but not if it is too out of the box. Practice your own faith, but what would Jesus do? There is this saying, “The opposite of courage is not cowardice; it’s conformity.” When we aren’t willing to be brave and broken for it, we conform and lose touch with what is truly real.

Often it feels like a game of hide and seek. We are enticed by vulnerability and then burrow away when it becomes too painful and uncomfortable. Realness doesn’t happen all at once and it does take time. Be courageous. I’ll look for your light as I explore my own wilderness and you look for mine. I’m certain there is enough buried treasure waiting to be [re]discovered for both of us and enough love in the world to find it, bit by bit.

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What About Now?

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What About Now?

When was the last time you celebrated the sun’s birthday, the birth day of life, the leaping greenly spirits of trees, the blue true dream of sky, and gave thanks for most this amazing day? We spend so much of our time in the past which is dead and the future which has yet to be born. What about now? These types of connections are for the living, and the present is the only time we are fully alive.

Before you send the eyes rolling and write this one off as some more idealistic whimsical new age cow dung being regifted, hear me out.

I get it.

I’m not exactly high on life all the time either. I too am working overtime and often feel the elusive balance of existence. It hardly feels like there is time to take a breath let alone actually feel it! And that is the point. So often we place these types of mindful moments–and feeling in general–on the later list and overlook the possibility of mindfulness as a way to be. When we start to see mindfulness as the plate itself rather than another item on it, we start to understand its value.

To be mindful means to be fully present in the moment, without judgement. In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown defines scarcity as the greatest cultural influence of our time. Scarcity, the “never enough” problem, is the judgmental default belief system we all perpetuate inside and out. As Brown states, “We get scarcity because we live it.” There is never enough time, or money, or confidence, or power, or certainty, or support, or…

We wake up each morning already feeling inadequate, and our own belief in inadequacy enables that in each other. The weight of each moment becomes too heavy to bare.

So how do we lighten the load?

A good start is by considering the opposite of scarcity which is “enough”. By continuing the practice of acceptance in each moment, just as it is–just as we are–we create an opportunity to expand the experience of the now, unadulterated. Who knows, maybe we will wake up to the birth of wings upon us and the gay great happening illimitably earth. Or maybe it will take a while for our days to feel that poetic. Either way, a step towards mindfulness, a practice that has been shown to help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and even reduce gastrointestinal difficulties is indeed a positive one.

Mindlessness is the flimsy foam picnic plate as mindfulness is the fine china. Like anything worth keeping around, it requires some elbow grease to create. Before porcelain can be made impermeable and non-porous it must endure glazing and fire. To be here now takes effort and the enduring commitment to be nonjudgemental, no matter what life serves us. This level of vulnerability is uncomfortable yet something found admirable in anyone wiling to expose themselves so uninhibitedly.

What does being vulnerable mean to you? What’s on your plate, and how could mindfulness help you handle it with more care? How can you live more openly?

I need your openness as much as you need mine, and the entire world needs our full exposure of everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.

Start by being vulnerable to yourself. Breathe and feel, observantly. Strip yourself down and dance with the unimaginable You. Let’s meet in the field beyond right and wrong doing that Rumi speaks of and share our own poetry.

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