Friday, April 07, 2006

Sunday Scribblings (and a quote.)

The Sunday Scribblings prompt this week is "Real Life." When Laini and I talked about it I kept getting this passage from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams in my head. (If you have never read this book - DO.)

"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 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."

My original 5 minute response to the prompt was the nitty gritty of life. I wrote:

Real life is dirty. It's the stains on your cuffs and under your armpits. Real life is being too tired to get up in the morning. Real life is doing the dishes and the laundry over and over and over again. Real life is expensive. It's fixing the car and paying the bills and going to the dentist. Real life is three mugs with a quarter of an inch of tea in the bottom sitting on your desk. Real life is suicides and rejections and break-ups and make-ups. Real life is the pile of shoes inside the front door. It's the pants that are too tight, the phone calls at 3am, and the clutter of your junk drawer.

And then I went - WHOA! That's not all of what I want to say about life. So I wrote this:

Real life is also warm legs to put your cold toes on in bed. Real life is sticky kisses and warm hands and ignoring the dishes because you have better things to do. Real life is unexpected. It's phone calls and emails and letters from buddies that arrive just when you need them most. Real life is flowers and trees blooming in the spring. It's the leaves falling in the autumn. Real life is snuggling down into the covers at night. Real life is making big, grown-up purchases. Real life is knowing what makes you happy and getting to do it sometimes. It's about making the big, scary decisions and living with them. It's periods and poo and farting and snorting and burping and barfing.

Real life is belly laughter and wracking sobs. Real life doesn't happen to everyone. Lots of people never get it. Real life is about noticing it all - the good and the bad, the fun and the mundane, and the clean and the dirty. The way I see it is the Skin Horse had it right. Real Life is about becoming Real.


P.S. Jamie is starting something amazing! Since I started reading her blog she has been inspiring me deeply to move this body of mine and to appreciate and enjoy it. Now she is creating something that is even more inspiring!!


Karen said...

What a beautiful post. I am teary. I absolutely love reading your words. I want to print it out and keep it on my fridge. Thank you.

Cate said...

This IS beautiful, Meg! I refused to read anybody else's post before writing my own, and I'm a bit ashamed of my pessimism (obviously not ashamed enough to delete it, however; it was my reality at that moment!). I love how you balanced your initial response with a more optimistic take--you are one honest, real, passionate, and gifted writer! Thank you for reminding me of my power to CHOOSE my outlook! Thank you.

Jenny said...

I've not seen your post until today and want to compliment you for coming at the same subject from two different points of view, beautifully.

tara dawn said...

Meg...I love this! The prompt for this week is open-ended, able to take it in any direction. And the words of Skin Horse, along with your own words, are certainly true...."Real life is about becoming real." It is the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly, the clean and the is every breath we take, every experience we have. And it is REAL.
Thanks for sharing this!
And PS - A big fat email is coming soon, soon, I promise...I'm sending lots and lots of love and HUGE HUGS!!!

Alexandra S said...

This was beautiful! I am glad you made room for ALL that our real lives smush into them! I owe you a long email and it will be coming soon- I'm rushing off to a training workshop-still No net access again-very silly reason why to be explained later. Just had 5 minutes and wanted to drop in and let you know I was happily here at your site!

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Meg! So fun -- the flip sides of 'real life'! And how you put 'farting and snorting and burping' in the paragraph with the good stuff!! And I love that you opened it with that quote which is one of those profound metaphors sometimes found in children's books that make you say 'wow'. It's true some people go to such lengths to deny reality and sort of lacquer over it, and those people will always live on the surface of experience, and they can't know real love or real human things. Smart skin horse.

Jennifer said...

wonderful writing and I love the Velveteen Rabbit. So many good things to learn from that story.

Jessie said...

Yep--that's it: the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. I thought about what "real life" means for a long time this morning. It's hard to figure out, but I think you hit the nail on the head with the Velveteen Rabbit connection.

melba said...

My son received that book for Christmas, but we haven't read it many times. That will definately be our story tonight.

I like how you wrote some poeple don't get it. Which I find so true and so sad. I do think it is possible to Wake Up at anytime. I know people who are dead and it is so difficult to have a conversation with them.

Jamie said...

I can so relate to your comments on "real life." When I was studying theatre the only thing that was considered real was the pain, the blood, the deep, deep darkness of the human soul. I really take a stand for love, beauty and joy being equally real!

And thank you so much for sharing the news of my dance party! I really appreciate it and I am SO glad that you're finding it inspiring! I can't wait to dance with you on May 1!

JourneyThroughLIfe said...

OOps, left my comment on the wrong post. Here it is on the right one.

Great post, Megg
I loved the Velveteen Rabbit passage. Very profound.

Dana said...

I'd say that about sums it up.

I love this sentence:

Real life is knowing what makes you happy and getting to do it sometimes.

chest of drawers said...

I finally feel like I´m getting it - "real life" - and it´s definately more positive, more wonderful and amazing than the opposite. Thankyou for helping me get here to be able to recognise it, with your words and your companionship!

Maggie said...

Meg, your writing is beautiful, I'm so glad I stopped in. I am living in England (Norwich, to be exact) for a year of study abroad. I love what you said about real life being "warm legs to put your cold toes on in bed," and "making the big, scary decisions and living with them." I whole-heartedly agree. I'm happy to have found your site. Cheers! ~Maggie

Living Part Deux said...

Megg, I absolutely adore this sentence:
Real life is about noticing it all - the good and the bad, the fun and the mundane, and the clean and the dirty.
That's it - it's about noticing, being really THERE. Such a wonderful description - and so great to include The Velveteen Rabbit. Cheers.

Endment said...

You have put together a wonderful post-- thanks

Jim Di Bartolo said...

Hi Meg!

I'm so glad you continued on and entered some happy things in your "Real Life" entry. Three cheers for warm legs, periods, poo, and farting! Hip hip hooray! (x3)



Kim G. said...

Thanks for this honest and heartfelt post! Isn't it the truth that the joys of real life wouldn't be as sweet if we didn't have to endure some of the crud. So I will endure the crud with a smile this week as I remember to balance it with the joy!

HoBess said...

First you pull out the Velveteen Rabbit, which I never can seem to read without a tearing plopping on the page. Then you got dirty. Then you got cuddly and you made me laugh. You covered all the bases, so very very real.

gkgirl said...

i love how you looked
so intently
at both sides of real life...

and also
how you made me want to go back
and reread
the velveteen rabbit

Kara said...

"Real life doesn't happen to everyone." This knocked my socks off and thanks for the connection to the Velveteen rabbit. Also a big big thank you for starting up the Sunday Scribbling with Laini. I love it!

la vie en rose said...

yep, i agree. the velveteen rabbit is my favorite childhood book and this is my favorite passage. i love it because it reminds me that real is a process...a process of becoming.

deirdre said...

Megg, great post. Your writing is earthy and alive and not afraid of the truth. I don't remember ever reading The Velveteen Rabbit, but it's about to join my collection of children's books. Thanks.

Paris Parfait said...

Love, love, love the analogy of the Skin Horse. The Velveteen Rabbit touched many lives, as I'm sure your post will. Thank you!

Shannon (Sentimental) said...

It's periods and poo and farting and snorting and burping and barfing.

Ya know such a simple statement but relating to my OCD it truly is something I need to understand is real life, not something I can control.

Megg, you have a beautiful post and anything that starts off with my favorite childrens book is right in my book! Your post wasn't depressing as I read in another of your entries, you are right, real life is always there, we just have to chose to see it and acknowledge its power.