Sealegs for Success: 21 Awesome Arghs for Balancing Your Life and Work!
Arghuably, the World’s Greatest Book on Arghing! Get your Sealegs me hearties! Read aloud by the industrial-strength Sealegger himself—Arghmaster John Parker!
Finally, Cap’n John’s life-changing book is here in audio!
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse to the Velveteen Rabbit. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, 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.”
— The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams, 1922
How had the Skin Horse become real? In his prime, the children played on him, for he was big enough and strong enough.
But as they played and roughhoused with him over the years, most of Skin Horse’s mane and tail got pulled out. One or both of his sewn on eyes had come loose and fallen off. When he was young and new, there was fur all over his body, but so much of it had been worn off that he was now mostly skin without fur, hence his name, Skin, instead of Furry Horse.
A person of influence gains his or her credentials through becoming real, through getting some beautiful fur rubbed off. According to Skin Horse, this is a challenging process, but well worth the sacrifices involved.
How real, how authentic, do you want to be? Reality is messy. Superficiality can keep things neat and tidy, but not necessarily real and authentic. Reality gets closer to some to the messy places: the problems we haven’t solved, the loose ends we haven’t tied up, the situations we don’t have under control.
Real and authentic reveals more. It allows more to be seen and is not so threatened by that openness and honesty.
Of course, no one likes flaws to show. It is nice to believe that you are thought of as great, perfect, smart, and on top of life, with your act together.
I’ve seen beautiful homes, gorgeous cathedrals, and awesome offices, but I’m also aware that if you go into the attic or the basement of most of those places, you’ll find dust, water seepage, mice, spiders and old junk no one wants anymore lying around. When you just look at the surface of things, they may seem all finished and tidy, but just a ceiling tile or a closet away, the true mess can be found.
The Skin Horse would understand this. His fur was gone, his tail had been all but pulled out, yet he was no longer stuck on the superficial. He had gone deeper and had reached a place of peace about appearances and approval. He had approval at a deeper level. He was used, real, and loved.
As long as we stay focused on how things appear, there will be tension. Why? We know that if we look more closely, we will always find things out of place, things that need mending or attending, things that need repair or replacement.
It’s the demon of perfection that brings this torment of worry that we are imperfect. We always see how we suppose—no, stronger than that—how we know things ought to be.
One day in my class Mary talked about how she struggled with perfectionism, but was learning to let go of that. A few rows back, Sally spoke up in an angry tone and said she was a perfectionist and liked being that way. She seemed annoyed with Mary and implied that Mary was slacking off in her work.
My sense was that Mary wanted to streamline and actually get her work done better. She seemed eager to work. She just didn’t want to be so stressed out about the overload and the actual lack of perfection that was going on in her workplace. I believe she will ultimately be more efficient and effective than angry Sally, because she was realistic about the chance for perfection.
I can tell you right now, the woman who wanted to let go of some of her perfectionism was a lot easier to be around than the one who frowned and scolded about the need to be perfect and how others should be, too.
The Skin Horse wasn’t new but he was comfortable, and “He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else.”
If you’ve ever been angry with yourself for not measuring up to the perfection that torments your mind, try thinking of the Skin Horse and realize that “Once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Argh #4 Reflections:
- What’s admirable about the Skin Horse?
- In what ways can you relate to him?
- What imperfections of yours have helped you become a better person?
- How can you become more real and authentic?