Benbrook Library / Books / Musings

Celebrating a Silly Old Bear

winniethepooh

According to the calendar on my desk, today is Pooh Day. Those of you who read the preceding sentence with your eyeballs are probably nodding understandingly, while any of you who happen to be using some sort of text-to-speech program are probably giggling juvenilely. To the latter group I say “oh, grow up,” and also “tee-hee.” What my truncatin’ calendar fails to mention is that this day is more commonly known as Winnie the Pooh Day, and it’s meant to simultaneously commemorate everyone’s favorite Hundred Acre Wood resident* and the birth of his creator, A. A. Milne.

I have fond memories of the Disneyfied version of Pooh from the late ‘80s TV show and Little Golden Books, but I’ve never read Milne’s original book, and as it turns out, I’ve really been missing out. I checked the ever-useful Goodreads and found a whole sloth** of great quotes both from the book and Milne himself. I know, the sticklers will tell you this is an adult blog that has no room for the trivialities of an anthropomorphized bear, but I say a pox on the sticklers, which I can in good conscience do because I just made them up. I’ve previously cautioned against being dismissive of children’s literature, and I’ll echo that warning here. The quotes I’ve read contain insights and sentiments that can be appreciated by all ages, and any book they came from has to be worthy of my time and yours. My favorites, accompanied by brief commentary, are as follows:

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Goodbyes can hurt more than anything, but even their sting can be mitigated by a positive spin of perspective. Having hard goodbye-worthy things and people in our lives is often taken for granted in an age when many of us get hung up stressing over “first world problems.”

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

This is good advice I need to heed. I’m a passive, let-things-come-to-me guy from way back.

“’Well,’ said Pooh, ‘what I like best,’ and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”

It’s weird, but I sometimes feel this way about reading a book. I get all amped between when I finish a book and before I start the next one; picking what to read next can be oddly exciting. While the actual reading part is usually a blast, too, sometimes it doesn’t quite compare to the thrill of selection and the idea of reading a particular book, if that makes any sense.

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘What about lunch?’”

This speaks to me, because while I often try my best to think critically and take an intellectual approach in my dealings, sometimes I’m just happier when things are simpler. And who doesn’t like lunch?

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

Hear, hear. With ubiquitous technology now devouring every second of our lives if we let it, it’s difficult for some of us to allow ourselves to experience moments of true aloneness and their accompanying emotions. Smart phones, I’m looking at you…again. There’s an interview in which comedian Louis C. K. expounds on this topic more deftly than I could ever hope to, but because it’s a bit profane in places, I won’t link to it here. For those interested, it’s easily findable through a quick Google search.

 “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

It seems to me this is one of the most oft-quoted Pooh quotes, as I’ve seen it many times before but wasn’t sure where to attribute it. It’s very sweet, but I can’t help but think of it as also a little bit selfish and backwards. I mean, if you die one day before your loved one, then they’ll have to live one day without you, which is the exact situation you were trying to avoid for yourself. Shouldn’t you want to live to be a hundred plus one day so that your loved one will be spared the pain of ever living without you?

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

This is how I feel about this blog, and expressing myself in general, sometimes. I worry that the thingish things I think about don’t always make it out of my mind in their original thing-like states, and that readers may see them as different things entirely.

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There you have it: quotes from a children’s book affecting a sort-of grown man. I hope you’re able to find some meaning in them, too. Happy Pooh Day, everyone.

*Well, favorite bear resident, anyway. Maybe you’re more of a Tigger person.

**Fun Fact: A group of bears is called a sloth. Thanks, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. I could do a whole post about the interesting names of various animal congregations. I also now have a great idea for a ferret t-shirt.

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