Have you ever wondered how some people can just be so…happy?
I have always been interested in different schools of thought. What inter-workings of the mind lead some folks to live so seemingly carefree while others seem to carry the weight of the world?
These questions originally led me to study psychology and sociology while at university. During my Semester at Sea, I studied the sociology of religion, too, which helped me to dig deeper into the communities that religions build and how they help folks from every walk of life to walk a path of hope (generalization alert) rather than meander aimlessly. Where philosophers seem to have all the questions, religions seem to have all the answers.
If religion helps communities to make meaning of the world around them, then doesn’t it just make sense to learn more about the religions of the culture you’re about to step into?
An aside: as much as I love a good ole fashioned textbook, I also really enjoy allegorical works, and works that bring theories and ideas to life. Other than Tao of Pooh, Breakfast with Buddha comes to mind.
Either way, I really enjoyed reading about the Tao of Pooh. Either Milne was a genius in the way he ever-so-subtly highlighted the variations in mindset that can so perfectly be attributed to Chinese philosophies or Hoff is a genius for recognizing the characteristics and bringing them to life.
Throughout the text, Hoff highlights all the ways that Pooh is unashamedly a Western Taoist:
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
“It’s the same thing,” he said.
Taoism is a way of thinking and living that emphasizes harmony with Tao, or “The Way.” “The Way” is, basically, the fundamental nature of the universe. And Pu (Pooh?!) is a Taoist metaphor for highlighting the simple, natural state of humanity.
Now one autumn morning when the wind had blown all the leaves off the trees in the night, and was trying to blow the branches off, Pooh and Piglet were sitting in the Thoughtful Spot and wondering.
“What I think,” said Pooh, “is I think we’ll go to Pooh Corner and see Eeyore, because perhaps his house has blown down, and perhaps he’d like us to build it again.”
“What I think,” said Piglet, is I think we’ll go and see Christopher Robin, only he won’t be there, so we can’t.”
“Let’s go and see everybody,” said Pooh. “Because when you’ve been walking in the wind for miles, and you suddenly go into somebody’s house, and he says, ‘Hallo, Pooh, you’re just in time for a little smackerel of something,’ and you are, then it’s what I call a Friendly Day.”
Piglet thought that they ought to have a Reason for going to see everybody, like Looking for Small or Organizing an Expotition, if Pooh could think of something.
“We’ll go because it’s Thursday,” he said, “and we’ll go to with everybody a Very Happy Thursday. Come on, Piglet.”
Pooh exemplifies connection with the natural, harmonious way of the universe. He is “simple,” in that he doesn’t try too hard to be too knowledgeable, or too worrisome, or to make too much meaning of the world. He just is. And for that, his experience of the world is vastly different and more enjoyable. It aligns with the fundamental nature of the universe.
The author’s point is that too many of us fret like Eeyore, hesitate like Piglet, calculate like Rabbit and pontificate like Owl (from the back cover), when the way is to just be. To find value in the nothing and nowhere. To listen to and just…appreciate…the birds instead of needing to know what kind of bird it is.
Doesn’t that apply to travel in such a lovely way?
Three Ways that the Tao Applies to Travel:
Be present where you are. Don’t feel the need to explain everything you see and hear. Just appreciate it. Listen to what you hear and what you don’t hear.
To be alone is not to be lonely. Appreciate the silence. Appreciate the brain space to let your mind wander. Don’t feel the need to fill the void. Peace is found in the emptiness.
The Great Reward you seek is the experience.
“The Bisy Backson is always going somewhere, somewhere he hasn’t been. Anywhere but where he is.
“That’s just it,” said Rabbit, “Where?”
“Perhaps he’s looking for something.”
“What?” asked Rabbit.
“That’s just what I was going to say,” said Pooh. And then he added, “Perhaps he’s looking for a — for a –“
For a Reward, perhaps. Our Bisy Backson religions, sciences, and business ethics have tried their hardest to convince us that there is a Great Reward waiting for us somewhere, and that what we have to do is spend our lives working like lunatics to catch up with it.”
As I venture forth in my travels, and hell, even in my daily life, I’m leaning in towards being, experiencing and appreciating. What have you taken an extra moment to appreciate lately?
Who Am I?
Where have I been?
Check out the image below for a visual of all of the amazing places I’ve been fortunate enough to experience and My Bucket List for the places I hope to visit soon.