That tattoo was my birthday present to myself this year. The Velveteen Rabbit has always been one of my favorite books; mostly just due to the raw emotion portrayed in the story. I remember being a child and feeling the sadness and the worry the little rabbit felt on the dump heap. It always made me cry. But the older I got, it wasn't the discarded rabbit that brought on the tears, it was this passage:
I'm still not even sure I can put into words why that passage is so powerful. I suspect it's slightly different for each person who reads that. It's particularly applicable to motherhood, but that's not where I usually go with it. I think, in a lot of ways, I was "people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept."
Look, I don't really know what the point of life is. I don't know what the point of my life is. I have no clear sense of direction- no calling, no vocational predilections, no sense of purpose that I could readily identify. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. And that can be hard- especially because I'm a high anxiety, Type A kind of gal.
I think in someways, to compensate for all the above, I just wanted to be there. To arrive. To be finished. To have all my goddamn ducks in a row. And I wanted (or thought that it had to be?) neat and pretty. Clean and linear and tidy. I thought my purpose in life (or the best way to deal with a lack there of), was to get my life in order with as little mess as possible, and keep it carefully and neatly arranged. Then my anxiety would be gone and the reverberant feeling that there was something there in the ether I needed to accomplish would dissipate.
But it didn't. If anything, it felt worse. It felt like I had squandered whatever chance there had been at the thing that I was supposed to do, but didn't know about yet. And then, despite all my effort to be neat and tidy, life kept happening. And I got dinged and scratched. And at some point, there were enough dings and scratches that I said screw it, and stopped being so careful. I started to give up being carefully kept.
And this feeling is still evolving. I'm still oh so terrified to make mistakes. But regardless, I keep making them, because I'm human, and with each once I can feel the seams getting a little looser. And that's okay. Because what I realized was so wrong with my perspective, with my furious scramble for whatever I thought I was accomplishing, is that it was always going to be a dead end street. It was entirely ends focused; goal oriented. You chose your path in the woods, you get to the end, and then what?
The Skin Horse said "You become." It's a process; not a result. Real isn't something that has a before and after. It creeps in through the cracks overtime. It is the Becoming that makes you Real. It's the bruises and the tears and the heartache and the scars. I used to think it looked ugly. I didn't understand.
I don't know what my goal is. I don't know what my calling is. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the time between now and death. But when you get to be Real, you don't have to worry about it quite so much. You get to enjoy Becoming.
I don't really like to make resolutions. New Years isn't my thing, and I've never really waxed sentimental over birthdays. But as I close out this decade, I want to remind myself to try a little harder to not try so hard. I want to do things even if I'm bad at them. I want to try things and fail. And I want to be okay existing without purpose for a bit. Because I'm starting to think the purpose is existing.