By Erich Wallace
September is here, and the craziness has begun again; especially for students or those that work in schools (like myself) who had the whole summer off to do as we pleased. Because of this, I am particularly excited to write about what God has been teaching me through a little, round, stuffed bear: Winnie the Pooh. The latest movie with Pooh Bear came out on August 3rd, titled Christopher Robin. My mom, brother, and I saw it by accident. I intended to take my mom to the movies for her birthday to see Mamma Mia 2, of which my mom is a fan, but it was no longer playing. The only other options were Meg, a modern version of Jaws, and the latest Mission Impossible movie, all of which my mom is not a fan; so Pooh Bear it was.
I’m going to borrow an excerpt from an article in The New Yorker about the movie by Robin Wright, to help explain the plot:
“[I]t features a fantastical story line in which the Christopher Robin of the books goes off to boarding school, serves in the Second World War, gets married, and has a child. Now an adult (played by an earnest Ewan McGregor), he faces real-world challenges as a frazzled efficiency expert at a struggling company in postwar London. In the clamor of work, he has lost a sense of connection to his wife; to his young daughter, Madeline; and to life itself. ‘Nothing comes from nothing’ is his philosophy now. Christopher has even forgotten Pooh.”
To reiterate Wright’s explanation, I’ll just say that Robin has been overtaken by the stresses of life and by the pressure of work. He has lost all sense of the beauty of enjoying the little things: taking time for family and relationships, and simply doing “nothing.” Many times his wife, his daughter, and he schedule a weekend to get away and to go to their family cottage, and many times Christopher cancels because he simply has too much to do. Eventually, cancelling on these little times of doing “nothing” with his family puts a great distance between them.
I heard a quote from Bishop Robert Barron not long ago saying that the most useless things in life are the most important. The most useless things in life are the most important. What does that even mean? I’ll explain: if you think about it, things like worshipping God, going to church, praying, or just hanging out with family or friends are the most useless things we can do from a production standpoint. “I’ve got a to-do list of 20 things long I need to get done today, and if I take time to pray, to give praise to God, to attend church, or to just hang out with people, it will simply put me behind,” said every Christian ever at some point. But Barron says these things are the most important. Taking that time to give to God is what aligns our hearts and our minds with what is truly important, and almost always makes our to-do list much more bearable. Taking that time to just be with our friends and families is what really strengthens the bonds between us.
As Wright mentioned before, Christopher Robin’s life motto becomes “nothing comes from nothing.” In other words, you’ve got to work hard all the time and not rest, or reflect, or spend time with your family because nothing really comes from that. Pooh combats this by saying the thought-provoking line of: “Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” Can you agree with that?! Have you ever been stressed over everything you have to do, but instead of just worrying or jumping right in, you took a few minutes, quieted your heart and soul, and prayed? Did you feel a sense of peace and motivation come over you? Have you ever gone to a coffee shop with a plan to sit down and get some work done but ended up running into someone and having a great 45 minute conversation? Have you ever been on your way to class, seen a homeless person on the street, and taken a few minutes to give them some change and to chat with them? “Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” Moments like these can be game-changers for you and for those you encounter.
“People say doing nothing is impossible, but I do nothing everyday,” says Pooh Bear. This line made me chuckle, but it is in these moments of doing nothing that the very best of something can come about. You and I both know that things are crazy, and as a student, a person with family, someone in teaching or ministry, we always feel like we could do more; but make sure to take time to pray, to go to Mass, to take time for people, and to waste time with your family. I bet you won’t regret it.
Prayers of peace and joy to you,