The Velveteen Friend…
The story of the velveteen rabbit reminds us that the true life begins with the struggle and daily handling that comes with life. The power of the friendship is found in the ability to remove the focus on self, and the willingness to do so. The duration through turmoil, boredom, endless miles of monotony, and the peaks and valleys of attention are the hallmarks of the true friend.
The reflections, which remind us that it is done by choice, are the patina that lends a richness and hue that the quick and the shallow will never know. The realization that these choices are the conscious decisions of an individual, to subordinate themselves to the betterment of the friendship, is the part that rubs the fur and pulls at the stitches of our life. When this is done with freedom and abandon it becomes the stuff of legends. When it is displayed for the common man it pronounces as dead, the feeble attempts of the self-absorbed. The knowledge that there is such a stark disparity of result discounts and lays bare the deception that existed and placated these people.
The key is to find the skin horse, and then be willing to stay the course. To find the mentor of the desire to be selfless, that is the prize. It is not called that at first though. It is found in the question the rabbit asks, “when will I be real?” Even though it is a self-absorbed reference point, it will mature into a realization of the goal through diminishing the self. There is a point that must be made though, the skin horse could not have told him unless he had achieved it already. To be anything else would have found its way out in the form of lists and performance oriented measurements. This wasn’t what came out. What came out was the path that the skin horse had trod himself, and was willing to share with an upstart idealist. So the questions come, who is my skin horse? Am I one? Who will I not be one to? Why? Here is the revelation of the source of self that inhibits. Will I deceive myself or face the inner man? When the day comes to reveal the answer will I allow it to come, or will I want the credit?
How about the day that the fire comes and the things that are tossed in include me. Have I steeled myself for that day? As that day comes will I remember the truth that “he” called me real, or will I remember the others that said I wasn’t? Who will I believe?
“When you’re real, shabbiness doesn’t matter”…
The heat was not normal. The heat was real though, and close. The knowledge that it came from his friend was a bother. The knowledge that he could not make it go away is what was the real problem though. “I don’t remember it ever being this hot,” he said to himself. “There is no relief, and it is so scary.” Closeness to it only reminded him that it was still there. Not that he enjoyed the warmth at all, but that the mystery was fearful to him is all that was in his mind. There was hope that there might be a reprieve, but it remained unanswered. “The boy was never this warm or this still for this long. What could it mean?” “Would I last through to the end?” “What did the end look like and would I know it when I got there?”
This is as our plight would be with the pain of a relationship that is struggling. If we are real we have set aside our agenda and immersed ourselves in the power of a friendship, to be saturated with the experience that is painful and frightening. Wondering if and when it will end and what that will be like. Wondering if there is metal enough in me to last and even if I deserve the privilege to do so. These are the questions that will persist, even as the end comes and passes by. Why was the privilege given to me?
The things that drive these thoughts away are the fear of the answers. The fear that the answers are much too ugly to comprehend and too heavy to carry. Too real to ignore, so I numb myself to them. I inoculate my world to the demands of others, and to the reality of the knowledge within me. I run.
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