Owl, Pooh, and Backson

A couple of nights ago, Colin and I watched the new animated movie “Winnie the Pooh”. It is beautifully hand drawn and painted … and it got me thinking … yes … again!

Everyone knows that owls are the wisest of all creatures, and Owl knows everything – at least, he thinks he does, even if his information (and his spelling!) often turns out to be not quite right. Although Owl can be a know-it-all, he does want to help his friends. But it’s his effort to help that often stirs up trouble in the Hundred Acre Wood.

“There’s a note found by Christopher Robin’s door”, says director Son Hall. “Pooh can’t make heads or tails of it, takes it to Owl, who interprets the words “GON OUT. BISY. BACKSON” to mean that Christopher Robin has been kidnapped by a fearsome creature called a ‘Backson’”

The declaration triggers an all-out search for the Backson, who only exists in Owl’s – and now everyone else’s imaginations. “Owl is one of those guys, God bless him, who doesn’t know how to say, ‘I don’t know’” says talk show host Craig Ferguson, who provides the voice of Owl. “So he makes things up, he improvises so that his friends won’t see how desperate he is – which is exactly like me.”

There’s a little of Owl in me … pretending I know, when I don’t.

Using long words and even longer sentences with frequent pauses is always a clue when I’m being Owl. Pooh offers an antidote in times like these. With “… his love of honey (make that chocolate for me!), his easy-going philosophy and his humble observations: ‘I am a bear of very little brain and long words bother me.’”, he reminds me that it’s okay not to know. And even better to know that I don’t know.

Pooh reminds me to stop for a moment, sit down on a rock if I can, get still, and take a few deep breaths. A mug of hot tea and a piece of chocolate always help. And that’s when I notice the imaginary Backson on an unchecked rampage in my mind – that “ferocious creature that enjoys torturing others and creating misfortune … who is responsible for holes in socks, broken teeth, getting old, losing objects, and catching colds.” Just as soon as I notice the Backson, this fearsome creature calms down, and becomes more like the ‘real’ Backson we see when the movie credits roll – friendly, kind, and patient.

The gentle ‘real’ Backson with a photo of the ferocious ‘imaginary’ one.

That’s when I find myself able to say out loud “I don’t know. Show me. I am willing.” Then I listen. Try it sometime.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?   Nothing!

At worst I’ve had a little pause in my day – a refreshing breathing space.
At best I discover exactly the answer I need right now.

Not the whole answer for every eventuality.
Not all the answers … and certainly not every possible answer for every possible person.
But just the simple answer I need for now – for me to take my next step.

And that is enough.
Thank you Pooh.

Words in italics adapted from:


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