Thursday, January 24, 2013


Facebook is many things, including the ultimate source of immediate consolation in times of need. Thanks to a friend who chose to brighten another's day, I was reacquainted with Pooh Corner and singer/songwriter Kenny Loggins' wonderfully uplifting song House at Pooh Corner. I didn't realize how much I missed that house.

Of course it brings us back to a time of childhood innocence and safety. Just listening or singing along, you will smile, laugh, weep, and rejoice. The perpetually six-year-old Christopher Robin is in all of us. So it got me searching and I remembered a book I read in college, The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. Hoff's book remained on the New York Times Best Seller List for 49 weeks in the early 1980s and connects the ancient Chinese philosophy of Tao to the wise, simple life of Winnie-the-Pooh, the beloved rumbly in his tumbly bear.

In a description on, the book is described as follows:

"The how of Pooh? The Tao of who? The Tao of Pooh!?! In which it is revealed that one of the world's great Taoist masters isn't Chinese - or a venerable philosopher - but is in fact none other than that effortlessly calm, still, reflective bear. A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh! While Eeyore frets, and Piglet hesitates, and Rabbit calculates, and Owl pontificates, Pooh just is. 
And that's a clue to the secret wisdom of the Taoists." 

Pooh just is. How hard is that to do?

When faced with chronic illness or disease, it can be very hard to reach a level of stillness. Or, conversely, it is forced upon you because there is absolutely no other option. You must lie still and  open your senses to the simple world around you whether that is within the confines of your bedroom or a hospital room, or - if you're lucky - your entire living quarters, you just are.

Those moments are fraught with fear and anxiety and distress until you let go; relax and accept. Meditate, if you will, on the sights, sounds, and scents around you. Contemplate at length on the bird that landed on your windowsill singing his song, the sound of the rain pelting the windows, the laughter of children in another room. Or, as in one of my most dire moments, acknowledging that the steady whoosh, whoosh, whoosh sound emanating from behind your head is the ventilator keeping you alive yet allowing the repetitive noise and motion to lull you to sleep.

Pooh gets all that. He knows that each moment is worth living and relishes the simpleness of it all. That's why we continue to love Pooh and his wisdom and that of the author who created him. Whether Tao or not, it is in the quiet times that we learn most of all.

"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."  
- A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

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