The great poet Maya Angelou once said, “When you know better, you do better.” It is true. When we know how to do better, think better, feel better and see the world in a different light, we will. And then, we must pay it forward. We must understand that the world is filled with misery, but it is also filled with love because of people willing to become introspective, engage in another’s worldview, tune in to become empathetic, and feel compassion for others and their story. When you know someone’s story, it is difficult to be angry at them.

Becoming whole is a spiritual awakening. It is tuning into your most vulnerable spots, so that you can tune into other’s most vulnerable spots in order to engage them emotionally. When you engage emotionally, there is love there. Love, humility, compassion, respect, and appreciation are what we all want, and we now realize in step twelve, that we must give those, in order to receive them in abundance.

The Velveteen Rabbit is a classic tale of toys that become real to a boy in his nursery. Rabbit learns throughout the story what it means to become real. He is plump and squishy when he is found on Christmas morning among other things, but the rabbit was “quite the best of all” according to the boy who received him. He loved on him “for at least 2 hours” until aunts and uncles came for dinner, when the velveteen rabbit was forgotten with all the other toys.

Rabbit lived in the toy cupboard and he was very shy. The other toys there – mechanical toys, boats, and robots were superior and looked down on rabbit. They all boasted about their special features in the cupboard – what made them superior and unique, and why they were the best toy. This made Rabbit feel as if he had no special features at all, and in fact he didn’t even know real rabbits existed. He felt very inferior to the other toys because he wasn’t played with much, and he hadn’t been around as long. He felt like an outcast, but there was one toy that paid attention to Rabbit – Rocking Horse.

Rocking Horse was old, for he had lived longer in the play room than any other toy. His coat was balding and the hairs in his tail had been pulled out or made into braids. Rocking Horse, however, was wise. He had seen many toys come and go with great pretension and then be thrown away. He knew those toys were only toys, and would never be turned into anything of more significance.

One day, Rabbit and Rocking Horse engaged in a conversation. “What is real?” Rabbit asked. “Does it mean having things buzz inside you and having a stick out handle?”

Rocking horse replied, “Real isn’t how you are made, it’s a thing that happens to you when a child loves you for a long, long time. Not just to play with, but to really love you. Then you will become real.”

Rabbit, “Does it hurt?”

Rocking Horse replied honestly,” Sometimes, for when you are real, you don’t mind being hurt.”

Rabbit asked more of being real, “Does it happen all at once like when you are wound up, or bit by bit?”

Rocking Horse, “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 must be safely 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, except to people who don’t understand.”

Rabbit, “I suppose you are real.”

Rocking Horse smiled. “The boy’s uncle made me real. Once you a real, you can’t become unreal again.”

Rabbit wished aloud that he could become real without these unpleasant things happening to them, to which Rocking Horse Replied, “When you are real, shabbiness doesn’t matter.”

Human life is much like Rabbit and Rocking Horse’s life. Time, experience, challenges, and hardships make you whole, but what makes you the most whole, is being loved. Once you evolve, you can’t undo what you’ve learned and become less again. When you know better, you do better, and you will never go back to the old, unknowing person that once was.

Later in The Velveteen Rabbit, when years had passed and much had happened in the nursery and the boy, the Toy Fairy reminded Rabbit, “You were real to the boy because he loved you.”

Love is what creates realness.

Photo credit here.