Many of the world’s greatest works of fiction are regarded as such because we as audience members can’t help but to identify with the characters. Maybe I’m a glutton like Templeton from Charlotte’s Web or clumsy like Marshall from PAW Patrol. And when we turn our attention to Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood, I don’t really see myself in that silly old bear. Instead, I see aspects of myself in the other characters.
Piglet and Stuttering Anxiety
Meeting me in person for the first time, you may be greeted by an individual who is mostly quiet and keeps to himself. Outwardly, you may see someone who is calm and under control. Under the surface, however, I can be riddled with crippling anxiety.
I can get very nervous and unsure of myself, particularly in unstructured or spontaneous social situations. I can feel incredibly awkward approaching random strangers — as was the case with Pink Shirt Day, as rewarding as that may have been — and I’ll consequently stumble over my words. Mingling isn’t really thing.
When I was younger, I really struggled with stuttering for the longest time. My parents would tell me to slow down and think about what I wanted to say before I said it. What they failed to understand was that wasn’t the issue at all. I already had the whole sentence formed in my head, but I just couldn’t get it out. From what I can see, my daughter may have inherited this trait too.
Owl and Questionable Wisdom
Just like Owl.
In fact, I named Owl from Winnie the Pooh while discussing the three fictional characters meme a couple of years back. And just like Owl, my so-called “wisdom” can probably be brought into question. There are plenty of people out there who are far smarter, more experienced and more educated than I am. I need to learn how to check my ego at the door.
Eeyore and Pessimistic Realism
A theory in psychology posits that depressed people actually have a more realistic worldview “and happy people just might be slightly delusional.” Accurately dubbed “depressive realism,” this theory is understandably very controversial.
But think about it this way. The optimist may apply for a job, for instance, fully expecting to get the gig. The pessimist might apply for the same job and assume that he/she probably won’t get it. Assuming there are more than two applicants, the pessimist has a more accurate perspective on his/her chances at getting hired. Only one person can get the position. Everyone else will be disappointed… unless you weren’t expecting to get the job in the first place.
To this end, many people may look to Eeyore and say he’s so negative. I say he’s being realistic and he doesn’t feel compelled to put on a happy face for the benefit of those around him. He’s keeping it real. And his friends never tell him to cheer up, but they’re still happy to have him around. That’s support!
Deep in the Hundred Acre Wood
Maybe the point of this exercise was to illustrate that even in the hyper-glossy, Disney-ified world of Winnie the Pooh, everyone has their struggles and their shortcomings. I’m certainly not immune.
And maybe one of the biggest lessons we can learn from The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Huff is that Pooh has figured out how to just be. He doesn’t fret like Eeyore, hesitate like Piglet, calculate like Rabbit or pontificate like Owl. He just is. Then again, maybe I’m just overthinking it.
Which Winnie the Pooh character do you identify with the most? Do you have the frenetic energy of Tigger or the comforting, maternal presence of Kanga? Are you clever like Rabbit or putting on an elusive front like the Bisy Backson?