I was a unique child. In Kindergarten, I was always that kid in the corner of the playground, getting to know the local ant colony: giving them advice on love and life, performing several marriages and helping them stockpile food for the winter. When we went camping, I would gather dead flies from around the common buildings and have “fly funerals,” complete with eulogies for each individual insect and prayers to help their spirits find peace (and endless piles of poop) in the afterlife. I was allowed to choose my own outfits since I could walk, and often showed up to school with bright orange pants splattered with paint, the matching gold sequin headband that doubled as a belt, and the neon t-shirt that served to take away whatever eyesight you had left after staring at the headband. I was young, I was wild, I was free, and surprisingly, I was not what you would consider ‘popular.’ Right? I’m shocked too.
The beauty of being unpopular is you find yourself with tons of free time on your hands, which you can fill in any way you choose. So when I wasn’t busy communing with the insect world in rainbow colors, I would immerse myself in the world of Winnie the Pooh.
To me, Winnie the Pooh lived the perfect life. For starters, he had my dream house: a tree, and munched like a fiend on honey, which was almost as amazing as the jar of Nutella my mother would keep on the top shelf in the kitchen cupboard. He spent his days gallivanting around in a forest with my dream pet: a pig, and got away with doing it all without pants. I felt like he had it all figured out, that roly poly bear, especially with his philosophies on life – kind of a cross between Confucious and Yogi Berra. Here are some of the gems:
“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “what about lunch?””
“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
I think without me even realizing it, these simple life philosophies from a very simple bear have actually played a huge part in my own world, and in shaping who I am. In his own wonderful words, he teaches us about communication, patience, love and friendship. And most importantly, the need to get up and go…the draw of a wider landscape (or forest as it were) to explore and appreciate. He’s right: staying in our own corner of the Forest has always been a difficult thing for both Nic and I to do, so this past summer, en route to our summer contracts, we decided to pack up the ol’ truck again and roam the continental US; a classic road trip that took us to places we had both never been. We strolled atop the salt flats of Utah’s vast landscape, gloried in Nebraskan sunsets and rolling hills, and marveled at the amount of snow still clinging to the Grand Tetons. As Pooh would say, there’s definitely nothing like a drive through America to satisfy even the wanderiest of wanderlusters.