'The Skin Horse Tells His Story'
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day... "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."
"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. ... But the Skin Horse only smiled.
"The Boy's Uncle made me Real" he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."
I am Little Rabbit. Ever since reading The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams I know this. I am sincere and curious. I ask important questions, and I want to make sure I'm living life to the fullest. I want to understand true love. I want to be REAL.
As the vision for this Blog is developing, I think long and deep about when it is in my life that I began to become a Singer. Is it at 12 years old with my first formal voice lesson? Is it at 4 in the St. Thomas Church Children's Choir with Mom at the organ? Is it when I first experienced God? or birth? or death? Is it when I lost my first love, or when I found it?
There are, in fact, countless moments in my life which make me a Singer. And more importantly there are countless people in my life who make me Real. They understand that true love looks far beyond the little wounds and scruffiness we accumulate along our Way. They observe the inanimate and see dancing. They quietly listen to the unspoken and hear singing.
I wish to dedicate this, my first blog entry on One Singer's Journey, to a person who entered my life recently but who seems to have been by my side since my first breath. He is a great observer and listener. With him I cannot help but dance and sing.
That I illustrate my love for my teacher through this little children's book I hope he does not find surprising. For when are we the most loved and the most real as when we are like children? When do we express our most sincere thoughts and emotions better than when there are no expectations, no rules, no boundaries, like in the imagination of a child?
Without guidance, the process of becoming our true selves and finding our true voices leaves us faded and worn and, like the Velveteen Rabbit, discarded and sad. It is sometimes difficult to remember what we are searching for when wounds seem to run so deep and to be so permanent.
I wonder how many singers, like me, know and understand deeply Little Rabbit's story. You may be told you are a real singer by people who love you and wish you every good thing...but that's not enough. It's not enough to get you through this world in tact.
The Velveteen Rabbit is lucky. He earns his scars through the love of The Boy. After running through the fields, being left outside into the evening and bouncing in wheelbarrows all over the country, Little Rabbit reaches the end of the day worn, but at least worn through love. All too often, we are left worn, but by people who do not love us.
The story ends well for Rabbit, as we all know:
It was light now, for the moon had risen. All the forest was beautiful, and the fronds of the bracken shown like frosted silver. In the open glade between the tree-trunks the wild rabbits danced with their shadows on the velvet grass, but when they saw the Fairy they all stopped dancing and stood round in a ring to stare at her.
"I've brought you a new playfellow," the Fairy said. "You must be very kind to him and teach him all he needs to know in Rabbit-land, for he is going to live with you for ever and ever!"
And she kissed the little Rabbit again and put him down on the grass.
"Run and play, little Rabbit!" she said.
But the little Rabbit sat quite still for a moment and never moved. For when he saw all the wild rabbits dancing around him he suddenly remembered about his hind legs, and he didn't want them to see that he was made all in one piece. He did not know that when the Fairy kissed him that last time she had changed him altogether. And he might have sat there a long time, too shy to move, if just then something hadn't tickled his nose, and before he thought what he was doing he lifted his hind toe to scratch it.
And he found that he actually had hind legs! Instead of dingy velveteen he had brown fur, soft and shiny, his ears twitched by themselves, and his whiskers were so long that they brushed the grass. He gave one leap and the joy of using those hind legs was so great that he went springing about the turf on them, jumping sideways and whirling round as the others did, and he grew so excited that when at last he did stop to look for the Fairy she had gone.
He was a real rabbit at last, at home with other rabbits.
Master Jean-Ronald LaFond, through his teaching, reminds me of this story and Little Rabbit's Journey. Jean-Ronald teaches with a mere breath that beautiful singing means being REAL. He teaches me that I hold the key to my own Becoming, and that what makes a Master is the ability to inspire this knowledge of Self in the disciple. So that, like the Fairy who arrives in Rabbit's darkest hour, True Love in all its transforming power may arrive and give us EVERY reason to dance and to sing.