What is it like to be raised in a time when your friends set up a virtual bed next to yours for a sleepover? What is it like to create instagram lives, play remote games with people you may never meet in person, wearing skins that resemble them only in imagination, texting conversations instead of watching their eyes? It is a lot of fantasy.
We were already prone to weaving stories. What ‘a tangled web we weave’ now. I worry for their authenticity. I admit my own history of big ideas, big views of self, while welcoming the ‘smalling’ that comes with mid-life. The youth seem to see everything as possible, strive for lives heretofore unattainable by their parents, and watch as digital lives create wealth; if that becomes the goal, Heaven help us all.
All I can do is head outside, drop to my knees, and pull weeds. I can sit on the sofa holding a buck rabbit, share photos of horses helped by neighbors who know them not but came to the rescue because community comes together in crisis.
…I can show them real.
Your 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.”