Life by the book (the book of Winnie the Pooh)

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Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something. – Winnie the Pooh

My family wanted to go see the new Winnie the Pooh movie yesterday in the late afternoon. When they told me, I decided to go with them. I am a sucker for the wisdom you find in Winnie the Pooh–I have quoted him for years. And I thought that it would be a nice family thing.

Once the afternoon started, I got bogged down in a tedious, depressing mess that is the changing internet sales tax law and what it means for our business. The longer I studied, the more depressed I got, and before long I had convinced myself that I could not possibly spend a few hours at a Winnie the Pooh movie. Someone had to stay home and be serious. Someone had to take responsibility for the family’s future.

Fortunately, I got over my feelings and went to the movie and it is a good thing I did. If I had not, the family would have been comparing me to Christopher Robin the whole time because of course, that is what the movie was about. The underlying theme is that it is easy for adults to just get too “adult-y” with way too much focus on the future at the expense of the present. In short, staying home from a family movie to do work that can wait another day is exactly what a broken Christopher Robin would have done.

I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost. – Winnie the Pooh

Of course, I resonate with the Christopher Robin you see in the movie. Frankly I resonate with him an awful lot though in one key way I don’t: while he hated his job, I actually love what I do. However, we suffer from the same disease where we forget to value today because we are too worried about tomorrow. And to use sort of a Christianese term, I got a bit convicted during that two hours.

Because of the way that I am wired, I was not content to just enjoy the cuteness of the movie; I had to wring some life lessons out of it and make it a teaching moment for the kids. So, we went out to eat afterwards and talked about it. Some of my kids live in the tomorrow with me and some live in the today. And I wanted them to know that neither is wrong in itself. The problem only comes when you lose your balance. The key is to make adjustments as you go through life to return to a more balanced place.

I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been. – Winnie the Pooh

If you find yourself on my side of the spectrum, depending on how far gone you are, you might need to tweak a few things to get back to a healthy balance where you can enjoy the day that you are living in. Doing so is ironically work in itself and it requires dealing with guilt. The guilt that comes from taking a break from the responsibility of the future is real, but that does not mean that it is legitimate.

I try to play golf every week for example, but I will readily admit that I still struggle with the guilt that comes from walking away from my serious life for four hours. My approach to that guilt is to acknowledge that it is illegitimate, a twisted product of my imperfect mind.

Your thing might not be golf. Maybe you need to find a way to live today with a book and a cup of coffee for an hour. I am not saying you have to crawl through the tree into the Hundred Acre Wood and ignore reality, but you may need to take your own baby steps toward balance.

It goes without saying that when taken to extreme, the live-in-the-moment perspective of Winnie the Pooh is neither realistic nor healthy. I get that, of course. But rather than beating up on the movie, I think it just might be healthier to let it be a gentle reminder that many of us need course corrections in our lives. Every day, it is a worthwhile endeavor to remind ourselves that we are not living tomorrow yet. We are living today. Wring life out of today.

Your life is happening now, right in front of you. – Evelyn Robin (Christopher Robin’s wife)

While we talked to the kids, my wife brought up her dad. Her dad worked very hard for decades to retire in his 60s. Everything was about the future and his retirement was going to be awesome. Then one day about ten years ago, just a year or two before his retirement, he was hit by a car and killed instantly. There is a sober lesson there.

Yes, the future matters; but today matters, too. Slow down a bit and live today.

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day. – Winnie the Pooh

[Today is] my favorite day. Yesterday, when it was tomorrow, it was too much day for me. РWinnie the Pooh