Monday, December 14, 2009
When she told me that story over the phone, I was horrified - and not only because the idea of little Timothy* being bullied broke my heart and made me consider homeschooling the preschool-bound Big Boy next fall and every year thereafter. Mostly I was disturbed by this representation of the Real World - apparently one in which a young child should get used to being battered by a larger peer, one in which adults cannot adequately protect kids, one in which violence trumps communication.
I don't know about you, but that's not the Real World I want to live in, nor the one in which I want my children to grow up.
Here in the blogosphere, we speak often about the Real World and Real Life. Writers routinely refer to their Real Friends, their Real Jobs. But then they go on to say that they don't feel like themselves with these friends, don't feel fulfilled in these jobs.
And that makes me wonder: if you are not You in your Real Life, if your Real World isn't one in which You want to live, then isn't it time to redefine Real, maybe expand its borders a bit?
Instead of focusing solely on the empirical - that which can be seen, touched, and measured - perhaps we should consider a version of Real that includes anything that to us feels genuine, true, and unfeigned. Anything that makes your gut clench with its wisdom or your heart skip with its sincerity. Anyone whose words make you nod with knowing and being known. Any place that envelops you with security, comfort, and a sense of home.
Yes, this new Real might be an Ideal. But why do we have to settle for a Real that isn't? For a preschool that isn't safe? Or relationships that don't move us? Why can't the Real World, our Real Lives be worthy of aspiration?
* names changed to protect the innocent (i.e. those trying to get their kid enrolled in a new preschool in a competitive market)
What does your Real World look like?