Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On Becoming "Real"

When our daughter Courtney was about a year old, a dear friend gifted her with a beautiful hardcover copy of the Margery Williams classic "The Velveteen Rabbit". I was just 23 years old myself at the time, and unfamiliar with book, but it brought tears to my eyes the first time I read it, and still does.

For anyone unfamiliar with the book, it's the tale of a stuffed rabbit who wants to be "real". My favorite passage is where one of the other animals in the nursery, the skin horse, explains to the little rabbit how toys become real:

"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 your 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."

I must say, this passage means even more at 50 than it did at 23. And I'm sure it's meaning will be deeper still if I'm blessed with another couple of decades. ;)

Real. It's not our outward appearance. It's not what we look like, how shiny and new we appear...It's what we are inside after being truly loved. That's what really counts, isn't it?

Sooooo, yes....maybe it's spring and thoughts of bunnies...maybe it's running across the book on Courtney's old bookshelf last week, but it's been crying "paint me!" for days now, and I finally had to oblige....

There are more pics on the eBay listing. Truly a blessing to paint this one, and a nice reminder of what's important too. ;)

There's yet another children's book, crying to painted, but it will probably be next week sometime....

Have you read this one?

It's the story of a Mother Bunny who becomes the Easter Bunny, and how, according to one review, "cleverness and kindness triumph over size and brawn". I read this one as a small child, and also read it to my daughter when she was little. It was written in 1939, and is surprisingly feminist for the time; girls can do anything, etc etc....Gotta love that. ;)

Bunnies, bunnies everywhere it seems! Never fear though, more wicked whimsy is on it's way - can't stay away from Halloween for too long, hehe....

In the meantime, I'm catching up on emails this week, after spending several days without a computer keyboard (spilled water on the old one - eek!) So if I owe you an email, it's coming!

Right now I'm off to wash out my paintbrushes and turn in for the night. Thank you ever so much for visiting me, and thank you for your comments too - I do so love to read them, even if I don't always have time to respond. (I promise to try harder though!)

Until next time,
~ Carolee


Rue said...

Feeling a little sniffly after reading your post. I remember that story and your take on it is so inspiring!

I do feel more "real" as I get older. I may not be as perky in all the right places as I used to be, but I have friends and family that make me feel young and alive. And that's all that matters.

rhomany said...

This is lovely Carolee. I love The Velveteen Bunny story too. I still have my original, much-loved, paperback on my shelf upstairs - which must be a REAL book by now because it barely has any cover left and all the pages are falling out!

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Aww Carolee, clearly at 55 I have become a little too real! I love that new work of art and although I adore all of your paintings, I remember the florals and bunnies of yesterday through this work. I will be putting up one of your bunny signs by the front door today.
♥, Susan

Julia Finucane said...

I remember the Velveteen Rabbit from my childhood. My father read me this book along with many other great classics. I haven't read this book since I was young. Maybe it's time to break open the box in my parents attic and reconnect with some childhood book favorites.

Designs By CK said...

AW reading the passage from Velveteen made my true...!!!

"Does it hurt..." LOL '-O)

Thanx 4 sharing with us!


CK (-:

Anonymous said...

The Velveteen Rabbit a complete classic, I bought both my little boys a copy each, in the hope that it can grow old with them. I remember reading it as a child and my copoy was so tattered and torn but still very much loved! When they was tiny babies, I woul sit in the rocking chair reading it to them!!! Can't believe they are 3 and 4 this year!

Liz Revit said...

Carolee, this is a great post, and your artwork is amazing!

Anonymous said...

How adorable this is,so sweet!

Linda said...

Your work is so beautiful and full of joy.
I watched the movie just a few days ago I cried and cried, even though the ending was happy, emotions flooded out, and I took to arting rabbits. :) Lindax