LESSONS FROM WIN­NIE THE POOH

He is en­dear­ing, and most of all, his phi­los­o­phy of life is rather help­ful

New Straits Times - - Opinion - The writer was a lec­turer at Universiti Te­knologi Mara and now spends her days en­joy­ing life as it is

IAM go­ing to buy an um­brella that is wind­proof and de­signed to be re­sis­tant to strong wind gusts. In Ire­land, an um­brella is a ne­ces­sity be­cause there are so many “blus­tery days”, in the words of Win­nie the Pooh.

Win­nie the Pooh has al­ways been one of my favourite child­hood char­ac­ters. Not so much the mass-pro­duced Dis­ney ver­sion of the or­ange coloured bear, but the orig­i­nal vin­tage hand­drawn bear.

I don’t know whether Win­nie the Pooh is as fa­mous as Mickey Mouse, but the fact that he is ac­tu­ally 91 (his longevity must be due to the health ben­e­fits of honey, his favourite food) this year earns him some space in my ar­ti­cle this week.

Cre­ated by A.A. Milne in 1926, he lives in the Hun­dred Acre Wood, which, in re­al­ity, is a cul­ti­vated pine plan­ta­tion called the Five Hun­dred Acre Wood in South East Eng­land. Pooh Cor­ner in Hart­field vil­lage is home to a large se­lec­tion of “Pooh­pher­na­lia”.

His search for honey makes him an un­wel­come guest to the bees, or even to his friend Rab­bit, who fears Pooh might eat him out of house and home. He is quite a celebrity even. On Queen El­iz­a­beth’s 90th birth­day last year, Win­nie went to Buck­ing­ham palace and pre­sented her with a song.

But, he is en­dear­ing, and most of all, his phi­los­o­phy of life is ac­tu­ally rather help­ful. No over­think­ing.

Right­fully so, as he is a bear of very lit­tle brain and is stuffed with fluff. Most of us tend to worry too much or an­a­lyse too much. Truth be told, most of the stuff that we worry about never ac­tu­ally ma­te­ri­alise in the end. Some­times, we over an­a­lyse an­other per­son’s words and get our­selves all worked up. When we fi­nally seek clar­i­fi­ca­tion from the per­son who ut­tered the words, we find that they may not be what we thought they were in the first place. Un­for­tu­nately, not ev­ery­one seeks clar­i­fi­ca­tion, and so, we may go through days, or even years, be­ing up­set over what we thought we heard. Sounds con­vo­luted, but it is true.

No fences.

“Tig­ger is all right, re­ally,” said Piglet lazily. “Of course he is,” said Christo­pher Robin. “Ev­ery­body is re­ally,” said Pooh. “That’s what I think.” (The House at Pooh Cor­ner, p. 108)

There is this air of ac­cep­tance in the face of stag­ger­ing dif­fer­ences. It has of­ten been said that a stranger is a just a friend I haven’t met. Far too of­ten we base our judge­ment of oth­ers through first im­pres­sions be­cause there are so many in-built fil­ters in our minds. These fil­ters could be any­thing from ex­pe­ri­ences, opin­ions, prej­u­dices and judge­ments.

Granted some of these first im­pres­sions are right. It is most nat­u­ral that we find com­fort among those who are of sim­i­lar dis­po­si­tion and share our in­ter­ests. But, I have met so many that I never thought I could be great friends with be­cause they are so very dif­fer­ent from me. Imag­ine if I have not al­lowed my­self to em­brace these dif­fer­ences, I would have missed out on such a great friend­ship.

No such thing as a silly ques­tion.

One of the great­est tech­niques to learn some­thing new is to ask. Chil­dren are never afraid to ask. But, adults gen­er­ally are more re­served in that area due to em­bar­rass­ment or pride, per­haps. I find my­self ask­ing a lot of ques­tions be­cause I want to know the spe­cific.

Some­times the per­son at the other end thinks I’m an ig­no­ra­mus and gets im­pa­tient with me.

Re­cently, I signed up for a postal ser­vice called Ad­dressPal, where I am given a postal ad­dress in the United King­dom for on­line pur­chases. The in­struc­tions on the web­site were not very clear, so I called up the customer ser­vice and asked for spe­cific in­for­ma­tion. I could sense the voice on the other end of the line get­ting agi­tated by my ques­tions.

Then there are those who give vague an­swers. The plumber tells me that he’s com­ing af­ter din­ner to fix my leaky pipe. To me, that is no help be­cause I wouldn’t know what time he eats his lamb stew and spuds. So, when I ask him for a pos­si­ble time, he feels pres­sured.

So, how did I end up writ­ing about Pooh’s phi­los­o­phy of life? Oh yes, it is about buy­ing a wind­proof um­brella and I should get it be­fore the blus­tery day comes.

Truth be told, most of the stuff that we worry about never ac­tu­ally ma­te­ri­alise in the end. Some­times, we over an­a­lyse an­other per­son’s words and get our­selves all worked up.

Win­nie the Pooh never over­thinks as he is a bear of very lit­tle brain and is stuffed with fluff.

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