Wednesday, March 22, 2023

A Real Rabbit

I found this abandoned bunny while walking near the Royal Free Hospital on Sunday. He was lying atop someone's recycling bin, staring up at the sky. I wondered if a little kid dropped him, or if he was put out for someone to take? I felt bad for him but I left him there, in case someone came looking for him.

He reminded me of that famous passage from "The Velveteen Rabbit":
“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 never read that book as a child, but I remember hearing that passage in an animated TV show at some point. I heard it not knowing the story and it made an impact -- I even wrote it down in my journal as best I could remember it -- and then it took me years to figure out that what I'd been watching was "The Velveteen Rabbit." It could have been the 1985 Meryl Streep version, though I would have been 18 or 19 when that came out, so perhaps it was an earlier one.

At any rate, the lost rabbit above seems quite real.

I'm actually trying to cut down on some of the stuff we have lying around our apartment, so picking up a wayward bunny was the last thing I needed to do. I'm feeling oppressed by all our belongings. As I mentioned the other day, I donated two big bags of books from our bookshelves, and I've set aside some other things for charity. I think I'm going to Freecycle some larger items, too.

Spring just seems like the natural time to do this kind of thing, doesn't it?


sparklingmerlot said...

I have never read the book and now I have to.
I guess I am Real. My eyes have dropped out, my joints are loose and I am very shabby - at least it feels like that some days. I am grateful to have been loved so much.

Moving with Mitchell said...

I hadn't even heard of The Velveteen Rabbit until I was in high school, when some older friends gave it to me as a Christmas gift. It was around 1970 and had suddenly become a very cool book. I have to admit, I loved it.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Don't talk to me about excess things. I am surrounded by them. This is the direct opposite of minimalist living.Poor Bunny! Looks like he has been well-loved.

jabblog said...

Lost toys always seem so sad. I hope the child who maybe loved the rabbit found it again.
Spring decluttering seems a good thing to do. I just wish I could manage it!

Bob said...

They don't call it Spring Cleaning for nothing; I need to start mine!

Sabine said...

We have a bunny rabbit that has been "loved to bits" as my daughter declared when she was maybe six or seven years old. After that, it lived for many years in a small hammock with little interaction due to severe loved-to-bits symptoms and has only recently recovered, i.e. received a brand new coat, because grandchild needs a rabbit now.

We have been clearing out stuff for seemingly ever and are still waiting to see any impact. Keep it up though, you'll never know.

Ms. Moon said...

I wonder if our spring cleaning-out doesn't arise from the days when our ancestors lived through the winter in small shelters whether they were caves or dark, windowless huts. When spring finally came and the weather warmed and the sun came back out, doors could be open, animal skins that had blocked the cold could be taken down, and the detritus of a long winter of living could be pitched out. What a true relief that must have been!

Ellen D. said...

That lost bunny photo is so sad, Steve!

Ed said...

I've heard of that book many a time but I'm not sure I've ever read it either. The first book I recall ever having read for pleasure was E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. That was quite away beyond children's books.

I think with early spring, we are full of energy after a winter's sabbatical and need to expend it somehow while waiting for the weather to allow us outside. By mid spring, through summer and well into fall we are too busy for such things. By the end of fall, we are so tired, we can't be bothered with such things as cleaning and so fall into winter for a bit of R & R.

ellen abbott said...

poor little lost rabbit. most of my 'stuff' is either art I have made or collected. I don't feel oppressed by any of that. thinking, looking around, nope not by anything here. all stuff I enjoy. even much of the furniture has ties to it. anyway, I imagine I might feel different if I was having to move again. we did abandon a lot of stuff last time. I find this ironic in you since you are the one who drags stuff home from the street all the time.

NewRobin13 said...

That bunny does look like it's been well-loved, but now it is sadly abandoned. I hope someone takes it gives it a good home. I never read The Velveteen Rabbit, but I'm living that life...bit by rickety old bones bit.

The Bug said...

Oh man I am so in the mood to get rid of stuff! I'm actually trying to work out & walk more so I have more stamina to attack ALL THE THINGS. Seriously. We'll see how it goes!

Sharon said...

They call it spring cleaning! I'm thinking of doing exactly the same thing.
I love that quote from "The Velveteen Rabbit" especially that last line.

Debby said...

I ran into some friends in a waiting room in the hospital yesterday. They are preparing to go on a 30 day adventure to hike the Camino de Santiago. I asked if they were going to post on line, and Cindy said, "Not until we get back. I don't want people to know we're gone." Looking a bit abashed, she said, 'Well, not you but..." and I said, "Oh you want to be cautious of me." She and her husband looked a little surprised. I said, "I'm downsizing. You might come back to find a couple truckloads of stuff stashed in your house."

We know that it's time, don't we? It gets to the point where if feels as if it is the thing that needs doing?

I've always meant to ask, what ever became of the trunk that belonged to your adventurer and his wife?

Boud said...

Sad rabbit. I've never read the Velveteen Rabbit, but I've seen enough quotations that I don't think I need to now.
I tend more to fall cleaning, before winter arrives and I'm still coping living with stuff.

Margaret said...

I think I've read the VR but it was a long time ago. I remember it being a box of tissues read.

Colette said...

I read the Velveteen Rabbit over and over again as a child. I still own a copy of it.

Jeanie said...

Why DO we clean in spring? It just happens. I just have too much stuff.

I never read the book as a child either but much older and it packed a far bigger wallop than I think it would to a kid. I often think some of those books are really written for adults.

Kelly said...

It makes me feel better to know I'm not the only one who never read The Velveteen Rabbit.

I have way too much stuff. I was just thinking last night I need to cull books and clean out my clothing.

Jennifer said...

I think the last time I read the Velveteen Rabbit it made me sad. The quote is kind of sad, too. Or maybe that's just me.

Andrew said...

That's such a nice piece of writing. I have not heard or read it before.

Catalyst said...

That's why it's called Spring Cleaning.

River said...

I read The Velveteen Rabbit after hearing about it several times on several blogs a few years ago. I understand about well-loved toys becoming "real", I have several stuffed toys myself, visiting children get to play with them, but one, Harvey Banana, is now very real, to me at least.

Steve Reed said...

Caro: I'm sure the author intended it as a metaphor for that very reason. :)

Mitchell: It must have had a resurgence in popularity. I never heard of it when I was a kid, either.

YP: We're ALL surrounded by them. The curse of modern life!

Jabblog: My technique is to do a tiny amount each day. I agree lost toys are kind of sad.

Bob: It really does become an urge at this time of year!

Sabine: It's great the rabbit could be passed down to a new generation!

Ms Moon: Absolutely! I mean, our houses basically ARE caves, though much more comfortable than anything our cave-people ancestors would have endured.

Ellen D: I agree. I felt bad for him. :(

Ed: I used to love Richard Scarry books when I was a kid.

Ellen: I know! I drag it in to "save" it, but I often wind up giving away or donating what I rescue. I just can't keep everything forever.

Robin: I'm hoping he wasn't abandoned but temporarily dropped, and whoever dropped him will backtrack and find him again.

Bug: That sounds like a good plan! Spring cleaning can apply to our bodies too, in terms of fitness and tuning up. :)

Sharon: It's clear the author meant that to be a metaphor for aging people! (Probably a little boost for whoever's reading the book to their kids or grandkids.)

Debby: I still have it! I have considered Freecycling it, but for now it's on display in our front hallway.

Boud: Yeah, that passage in particular is very frequently quoted. It's the one that made an impact on me when I first heard that TV version.

Margaret: I don't think I've ever read the whole thing, actually.

Colette: Cute! Interesting that you knew about it when Mitchell and I were clueless.

Jeanie: The best children's books work on two levels, I think -- entertaining for both a child and any adult reading the book TO a child.

Kelly: It's crazy how quickly stuff stacks up!

Jennifer: No, it's definitely poignant. It's not just you!

Andrew: I wonder if the rest of the book is as good? Some people here say so.

Catalyst: Indeed. It is such a strong impulse at this time of year.

River: It's great that you have visiting kids to play with them. The only one who can play with our toys is Olga! (Another reason I didn't bring the rabbit home.)

Rose ~ from Oz said...

That...was a beautiful post. Truly.