Recently, a large poll was taken in which A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh ranked number one for the most beloved children’s books of all time, even beating J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Milne created a brilliant and endearing narrative that all its readers and viewers get lost in, only to find ourselves identifying with the animals living deep in the Hundred Acre Wood. While some of us may relate more to Piglet’s anxiety than Pooh’s clumsiness, each of the characters lives within us.
Though we are designed to express our feelings, majority of us have been taught the “should’s” and the “supposed to’s” of life, which end up suffocating the truth and the beauty that is intended to be shared. Telling yourself or someone else “you shouldn’t be so sad about that” or “you aren’t supposed to be angry!” is as senseless as asking Tigger to sit down or telling Eeyore to perk up. Even if Eeyore pretended to be happy because he was supposed to, it would still be raining internally. When we suppress our hearts, we miss out on the gifts the eight feelings, if really experienced, have to offer.
There is a scene from one of the books where the forest floods and Piglet is trapped alone in his house. His anxiety is getting the best of him, and he begins to wonder aloud about how each of his friends would handle the situation better than him. His “shoulds” and “supposed to’s” grow louder, demanding him to be anyone but himself. Suddenly, he remembers that Christopher Robin once taught him an escape plan for a flood– to send a message in a bottle down the river. Piglet recalls what was already within him and sends out his sign for help. The bottle makes its way to Piglet’s friends through the forest, and the chapter ends with Pooh riding on Christopher Robin’s umbrella to help rescue Piglet from danger.
Once he let go of what he thought he should be feeling and was supposed to be doing, Piglet’s fear caused him to remember and to reach out. His fear did not make the flood disappear, but it did serve a unique purpose in enabling him to ask for help.
The truth is that our hearts are much like the mystical Hundred Acre Wood that terrible floods often befall. And while we may prefer Pooh’s happy-go-lucky naivety, we need all the characters in the woods in order to persevere in this life. After all, Pooh had seven other friends to experience the fullness of the forest with.