Winnie the Pooh is my new role model. He should be a role model for all of us.
I had a Winnie the Pooh book or two growing up. I read Winnie the Pooh to my nieces and nephews or to some of my cousins or to some of the children of my nieces and nephews.
But I’ve thought little of that wonderful little character created by A.A. Milne for years.
Until last week.
A Facebook post with a title similar to “Winnie the Pooh quotes for adults” appeared on my feed.
It got me to thinking about life … as Winnie the Pooh and his friends Christopher Robin, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet often do.
Winnie the Pooh has lots of answers, a lot of really good answers.
He’s an optimist, something I aspire to be, but struggle with.
And he’s good at making people feel better about themselves, which is a gift most do not possess.
In short, Winnie the Pooh makes people smile. He makes me smile.
Positive people are a blessing, and I am blessed with friends who make me smile. They are bright and personable and I feel better about life when around them.
Just hearing their voice, or their laugh, or seeing their smile or their bright, alert eyes makes me smile.
We need more of that in our lives.
Which gets me back to Winnie.
The next book I buy will be “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff.
It delves more deeply into the philosophy of the great Pooh.
But for this column, I’ll just say that Winnie the Pooh has an ability to sum up a lot of life in simple phrases.
Here are a few I really like:
On saying goodbye to friends, Winnie says: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
On making the most of every day, he says: “A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.”
Some phrases have multiple meanings. When Winnie says: “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes,” he could be talking about many things.
To me, he’s talking about making friends. You’re not going to make new friends if you spend all your time at home watching the Food Network. It also is a philosophy that describes the lost art of compromise, a truly forgotten art when it comes to politics.
On friendship, Winnie says: “A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t, they lay down beside you and listen.”
On seeing the good in “bad” people: “Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.”
On having a positive outlook: “Never fear the shadows, they simply mean there’s light shining somewhere nearby.”
During one conversation, Piglet asks: “How do you spell love?” Pooh’s response: “You don’t spell it. You feel it.”
Pooh also encourages us to: “Enjoy the little things in life. For one day, you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”
As I started this column, I was doing a little Winnie the Pooh research on the internet.
I came across a quiz that posed the question: “Which Winnie the Pooh quote should you live by?”
So, on a Saturday evening, with little else to do, I took a long test that included colors and abstract pictures and soul-searching questions. The Winnie the Pooh” quote I should live by, coincidentally, is the one I wrote first in this column: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
It’s perfect for me. It’s kind of an innocuous quote that can apply to all types of situations, but it’s something I’ve struggled with the past few years.
Some of my closest friends are people I have worked with. It makes sense. You spend hours with people five days or five nights a week . You chat and laugh and tell jokes and lean on each other and learn about one another.
And then those friendships are disrupted. And this is sometimes difficult to handle.
I worked at the News Journal in Mansfield for more than 15 years as a reporter, copy editor and group editor. The last seven years or so I was one of the elder statesmen in that office. Nearly everyone I worked with was younger than me, some more than a quarter century younger than me.
We came from different generations, we have different tastes in music and literature, we have different political beliefs. My White Anglo-Saxon Protestant upbringing was unlike almost all of those friends.
But those differences did not matter.
We became wonderful friends and when they left — or I left — it saddened me.
I still in north central Ohio and my life hasn’t changed that much. But many of my best friends have scattered … to the west and north and south.
We keep in touch, sporadically. But it’s hard. Each of them have new lives and new careers and husbands or wives or boyfriends and girlfriends and children and grandchildren.
I’m single and have no children. I live that part of my life vicariously through others.
Despite my outward appearance, I am a softie. I tear up often and I grieve deeply.
I think those emotions goes along with aging, and getting smarter, and receiving my AARP card and the senior discount at the golf course.
Nonetheless, saying goodbye sucks.
But thanks to Winnie the Pooh, I’m thinking a little differently about those friendships today.
I was enriched by having those people in my life.
The memories I have of those friends will make me smile forever.
Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email him at [email protected] with comments and story ideas.