The Tale of the Velveteen Yogi
“When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt. It doesn’t happen all at once. 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.” ~ Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Do you remember The Velveteen Rabbit? I still have my copy, sent to me care of my parents in my Weekly Reader book pack, at an age when “reading” meant snuggling side by side with my Mom on the sofa as she read aloud to me.
A year or two back, I ran across that quote from the book, printed on a beautiful card in a grocery store in Nashville. As the cashier rang up my order, the card rolling down the conveyor belt last, I felt tears sting the corners of my eyes as I realized that I, too, was in the process of Becoming Real.
As the book says, it doesn’t happen all at once. It is still happening, I am still Becoming, and I can only hope I will have the courage to keep Becoming. So how did I know? How did I know I was Becoming Real?
When I expressed to my Mom my worry that she and my Dad would be disappointed in my choosing to teach yoga full time in favor of my established career, and she lovingly responded, “Baby, you’ve got to let that go.”
When I went on sabbatical from my job and never came back.
When a soul sister and I created our own unique, special curriculum for training yoga teachers, and started serving as mama bear mentors to heart-centered, life-loving yogis-turned-teachers.
When I chose possibility and hope, and stepped away from the certainty of my marriage.
When I ended up on a plane seated beside a handsome young Franciscan monk, robes and all, who offered me a referral to a reform camp for wayward women.
When friends and friends of friends began sharing with me their most broken and most beautiful truths, because they knew I could take it.
When I wept on the floor in my friend’s hallway, her tiny dog licking my hand, trying to make it all okay.
When I trusted the rope tied to a tree at the top of a waterfall in Costa Rica to hold me as I repelled down the slippery rock surface to the pool of water below.
When I scuba dived for the first time in 12 years using a breathing apparatus strapped to a tank on someone else’s back.
When I laughed so hard over dinner with one of my dearest, truest friends and his friends, that tears rolled down my cheeks and it felt like a lifetime later before I could catch my breath.
When I shared an awkward hug in the parking lot with my realtor after signing the closing documents from selling the house, the one he and I had lived in together.
When I slept on the floor in my new place the night before my furniture arrived, because I was so grateful to have a place to sleep that was all mine.
When I jumped off that rock (in my mind, a mountain) into the Ionian Sea, screaming and cursing and laughing the whole way down.
When I discovered it is possible to be vulnerable and imperfect and Real and still be loved and accepted.
When I realized that I have everything and nothing to lose.
THAT’S how I knew. And:
“Once you are Real, you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
How did YOU know? How did you know you were Becoming Real? Please feel free to send me a personal message. And know that you are loved. You are accepted. You are allowed.