What is real?
The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Velveteen Rabbit written by Margery Williams, published more than a century ago, is still applicable. The story features a stuffed velveteen toy rabbit that a little boy played with, entertaining him with all sorts of activities; they were never apart. But when the little boy comes down with scarlet fever, the doctor orders all the toys to be put into bags, including the rabbit, and burned. The rabbit remembers the words of comfort the Skin Horse shared with him:
"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.
With the morning moisture in the garden where the bags had been left, one opens, releasing the rabbit. With the drop of a tear, a fairy appears. She tells the rabbit her name is Nursery Magic Fairy and with her magic, she will turn the stuffed rabbit into a real rabbit.
The little boy recovers and the following spring, while playing in his garden, a live rabbit appears with a strong resemblance to his velveteen rabbit. He might have exclaimed, “My rabbit is real!” becoming real when one is truly loved, warts, foibles, and all.
Margery Williams’s grandson, Mike Bianco, explains. His grandmother “understood that all of these trappings of prestige and material possessions that we associate with being happy and what will endear us to others really fall short, because it's only when we allow ourselves to both give and receive unconditional love that we really become truly contented."
Life Lesson shared by the Skin Horse: "...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."
LOVE YOURSELF – you are real.