"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!!