Winnie the Pooh has always been a favourite character, book, movie, television show and any other format of mine for as long as I can remember. I have always had a strong love for him and his friends and I will always hold a place in my heart for the bear of very little brain.
Today is Winnie the Pooh Day which is simply wonderful. I know many people think that Winnie the Pooh is for children, and many cannot think of him past the many Disney movies and merchandise, but A. A. Milne wrote his books in a way that not only spoke to children, but also adults as well. I will refrain from recounting the essay and analytical approach of Winnie the Pooh I wrote at university that shows how marvellous Milne’s writing was, but Winnie the Pooh was a book that was so innocent yet very profound at the same time, giving adults and children alike a wonderful story, a beautiful message of friendship, and so many lessons that can be held on to through their entire lives.
Towards the end of last year when Poland were trying to ban Winnie the Pooh for his genderless and questionable nature, Angela Mollard wrote a wonderful piece about Winnie the Pooh where she states that “[A]ll I know about life I’ve learned from him.”
I have always believed Milne has so many of the right lessons to teach, both profound, humorous, and touching, even all these decades later, so on this, Winnie the Pooh Day, I am going to share with you the great lessons Mollard has learnt from Milne, and maybe add a few more of my own.
The following is an extract of a Daily Telegraph article that was published in print and online on 30 November 2014 by Angela Mollard.
“Like anyone wanting to understand philosophy — or just look clever — I’ve had a crack at Proust and Dostoevsky but they’re just a preamble to the wisdom of AA Milne’s Pooh.
Here are 10 life lessons I’ve learned from an 88-year-old bear with a penchant for honey and an aversion to pants:
“THE things that make me different are the things that make me.”
How many times I’ve quoted this to my daughters as their lives become increasingly indexed to Instagram and its homogenous images of perfection.
“HOW lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
My eldest was devastated when she left primary school.
In her school captain’s speech she forced back tears as she quoted the above. Of course, I blubbed something stupid.
“…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.”
See why I love this bear? So smart, so self-deprecating, so playful with language. If more of us had the courage to share our “things” we might be less fraught about our worries and more flexible with our views.
On embracing others
“YOU can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
So many people are friends waiting to be made if only we’d be brave. And it’s so easy — just ask questions. And listen — properly listen — to the answers.
On small pleasures
“IT is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘What about lunch?’”
Or breakfast. Or dinner. Or drinks.
“‘SUPPOSING a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?’
‘Supposing it didn’t,’ said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.”
As a reformed catastrophiser I’ve read The Optimistic Child and tried to teach my kids to see the glass as half full. But this says it all.
“PIGLET sidled up to Pooh from behind. ‘Pooh?’ he whispered.
‘Nothing,’ said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. ‘I just wanted to be sure of you.’”
Love — we expect so much from it. How much might be solved simply by slipping your hand through someone else’s?
“‘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.”
My youngest wants a trampoline for Christmas. She’s wanted a trampoline all year. We’ve measured the garden and looked online and she’s even put an old mattress on the lawn, pretending what it might be like to jump there. Ah — the joy of delayed gratification.
“‘HELLO, Rabbit,’ he said, ‘is that you?’
‘Let’s pretend it isn’t,’ said Rabbit, ‘and see what happens.’”
Parenting requires so much good sense. How much simpler it might be if we gave in
On what matters
“SOMETIMES,” said Pooh, “the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
Whenever I’m conflicted in my priorities, I remember this. It’s why I called my book The Smallest Things. Winnie-the-Pooh will forever be my touchstone.”
The full article can be read here.
Personally the quotes I love from Winnie the Pooh are vast. They are not all life lessons so I shan’t include them here but I will say that I adore the “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” line just like Mollard, it really makes you appreciate what you have and what it meant to you when you have to say goodbye. The only trouble is, that line may be from Annie, not Winnie the Pooh, but since the internet refuses to make up its mind and I can’t find any answer either way, feel free to keep being inspired by it!
Another favourite is “Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.” It reminds you that judging someone on how they look is no judge on who they are, and everyone needs a little kindness.
One that I find myself quoting a lot is “One can never be uncheered with a balloon” which is less profound compared to some but goes to show Milne (and Pooh) can also be a tad whimsical in their profoundness.
Of course not everything from Winnie the Pooh is a life lesson, but it’s great to take the time to read the humour and complex simplicity Milne put into his writing so that it was enjoyed by adults and children, and that the simple adventures of a boy and his bear, with all the friends in the Hundred Acre Woods, can mean so much to so many for so long.