What is Real?

Old Woman

Old lady at San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, by Tomas Castelazo

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “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.”

From The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

About The Author

Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.


  • Karen Ball

    Reply Reply December 17, 2011

    So sweet – and so profound. Thank you, Cindy.
    Hope you and Andrea have a joyful, peaceful holiday respite.
    Karen xxoo

  • Cindy Black

    Reply Reply December 18, 2011

    I first read this some time in high school – I remember being so moved by it. I feel that just now I am beginning to understand the depth of these words.

    Peaceful holidays to you too, Karen!

  • Christina

    Reply Reply December 18, 2011

    More proof, the older we get the wiser we get………..thank you for this inspiring quote…………..

  • Ben

    Reply Reply December 18, 2011

    Simplicity is the highest form of sophistication. Thank you mister, Da Vinci. Thank you, Cindy. Happy Holidays, All.

  • sally black

    Reply Reply December 25, 2011

    It has been said that a child will lead them. Thank you for leading me in the right direction to peace of mind. LOVE YOU Very much, Momma.

  • Nancy Petersen

    Reply Reply June 11, 2014

    Wow Cindy- I’m sure I must have read this or had it read to me but never has it had this kind of impact. I am always trying to be my “real” self but with so many insecurities. This helps me reframe my life and kind of embrace some of my insecurities. Thank you for this!

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac.

      Reply Reply June 11, 2014

      Thanks for writing Nancy. Be easy with yourself.

  • Genesis M. Roy, LMT, ISHA

    Reply Reply December 30, 2016

    “Real” Yes, this tells alot … Opening to one’s True Self is challenging … but the key I guess is first to Know Thyself, Really! Thank you for sharing Cindy … <3

  • Genesis M. Roy, LMT, ISHA

    Reply Reply February 20, 2017

    There is a saying, “The Second Time Around” is always better than the First! Now I have rearead and of course things had to have a different perspective … yes, to be “Real” does not happen without some challenges, disappointments and sadness but the journey of the growth changes the consciousness and the importance of who one Really is … Awaiting further revelations … <3

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