A few weeks ago, I had some minor surgery that required a sedative. My grandson asked me whether I wanted to know what I said in the recovery room.
“Probably not,” I said.
He kept chuckling.
“Everybody was cracking up,” he said.
“OK. What did I say?”
“You recited Winnie the Pooh. You recited the whole poem starting with ‘The King asked the Queen and the Queen asked the Dairy Maid, could we have some butter for the royal slice of bread?’ You said it with an English accent, Grandma, just like when you read it to us when we were little.”
As happy as I was that I hadn’t disclosed some secret, illegal or illicit activity, I was a bit embarrassed until I remembered why it was appropriate to celebrate my survival by quoting Winnie. We should not only honor Winnie, but it’s author, A.A. Milne who wrote over 23 plays that were performed, but will be remembered for his stories about a silly bear named Pooh.
Pooh Bear is my philosopher. Why wouldn’t I draw upon my subconscious when I was defenseless? Winnie the Pooh is not only amusing, but wise. I learned many lessons as a child and as an adult from pondering Pooh. Clearly I learned that it is far better to recall Pooh than a bad golf game, stroke by stroke, as I had after previous surgery. According to the family, that, too, was amusing. But I don’t think that playing nine holes in the rough was something to laugh at, nor that it should be recalled later.
Winnie the Pooh, however, delights me. The first book, and the succeeding ones called the “The House at Pooh Corner,” “Now We Are Six,” and “When We Were Very Young.” All amuse adults as well as children, and all have lessons as valid today as they were in the 1920s.
For example, the Milne books taught us the following:
- Pooh did not come by honey easily; he had to stuff himself through a hole into Rabbit’s house. We had to work, as Pooh did, for a reward.
- Pooh got along with all his neighbors, including Kangaroo, little Roo, Rabbit, Tigger and Eeyore, the donkey who was a terrible curmudgeon.
- Pooh helped solve problems, like how to fly in between the bees without getting stung. Certainly this is a valuable lesson in a partisan state.
- Pooh encouraged others to b
- e themselves. When Roo pretended to be Piglet, he was taught by his mother not to risk doing so again by giving him a bath, something he deplored, but had to have i
- f he pretended to be Piglet.
- Pooh knew there was a reward in doing right, but frightening. That is why Pooh hummed a lot and everyone knows that this scares off Heffalumps and other scary individuals. He didn’t know “Climb Every Mountain” or “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” but he knew “tra la la” and anything hummed will work.
- Pooh was an expert at getting out of tight places like the rabbit hole, but he only got into tight places when it was worth it. Pooh knew that some things are not worth fighting about, but that honey, like all really good things, is.
- Pooh knew that exercise was terribly important and that daily walks through the 100 Acre Wood is important to keep in touch with people and nature. Seniors are grateful that younger people take the parking spaces nearest where they are going so we can get our exercise walking from the outer parking lot to where we are going.
- Pooh helped others solve their problems even though he was a person of little brain. We all need help from those who see things simply.
- Most importantly, Pooh knew how to ward off Hefflelumps, and deal with Eeyores. They resemble elephants and donkeys but are not as nice; in fact, they can be
- rude to those who see the world as it should be.
What I liked the best about Milne’s books, written in 1924-28, was the attitude of the animals in Pooh’s world. The first thing they said on awakening was “I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” I wonder that, too. Shouldn’t you?