I’m busy with summer school, so this week I’m reprising a post from my earlier blog:
Once my mother equated each of my brothers and sisters with Winnie the Pooh characters. She seemed to know the character for me right away… but paused before saying “Eeyore.” Maybe she meant to preserve my feelings.
You remember Eeyore. After saying good morning, he added, “If it is a good morning, which I doubt.” He is relentlessly downbeat, depressed, and self-loathing. Seeing his reflection in the stream, he says, “Pathetic, that’s what it is, pathetic.”
I’ve heard people use Eeyore to chide someone for being sullen or complaining, for not going along with the high spirits of the moment. “Don’t be such an Eeyore!” they say, in exactly the same context as, “Don’t be such a party pooper!”
But I can’t help defending Eeyore. People forget Chapter Six of Winnie the Pooh when Eeyore reveals it’s his birthday. Pooh, being Pooh, realizes his friend needs something more than “Many happy returns” and enlists Piglet’s aid in gathering presents. Pooh chooses a pot of honey (what else?) and Piglet chooses a balloon. The honey gets eaten (what else?), and Piglet trips and pops the balloon.
And Eeyore? He couldn’t be more pleased. He’s grateful for Pooh’s “useful pot” because now he has somewhere to put the balloon, which—had it not popped—wouldn’t have fit. You can’t argue Eeyore is great company, but he does support the theory of lowered expectations. When you expect nothing, everything pleases you. And in the story, it’s truly the thought that counts to Eeyore. He seems tickled the balloon was once his favorite color—red—and his favorite size—about as big as Piglet.
If I could only be so positive. The worst-case scenario occurs to me first, so I’m at my best when I pass by it to say something positive. It’s my duty to lift myself from gloom and disguise my hope-challenged state. I look to laugh but sometimes settle for accepting the way I am and invest in hoping something better lies ahead. I don’t always succeed, but sometimes.
Eeyore’s take on his own condition is that nothing is wrong except, “We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.” Eeyore says he has no “Bon-hommy… I’m not complaining, but there it is.”
We might suggest Prozac—but he recognizes his state and tries to work with it.
In the fourth chapter, when Eeyore loses his tail, he’s despondent—though he doesn’t know why yet. He’s particularly happy to see Pooh, for he was “very glad to be able to stop thinking a little in order to say ‘How do you do?’ in a gloomy manner to him.”
Eeyore isn’t companionable but craves companionship. He is ready to be consoled. When Pooh points out his tail is gone, Eeyore sees Pooh’s observation accounts for a great deal, and, in fact, “It explains everything.”
Nothing will ever explain everything for me—it’s tough to accept someone else’s answer to a question you ask yourself—but Eeyore celebrates unreservedly when, tail found, he “frisked about the forest, waving his tail so happily.” That sounds good.
It might be sad to look to Eeyore as a model—pathetic, that’s what it is, pathetic—but there’s much to admire in him. A. A. Milne writes, “Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, ‘Why?’ and sometimes he thought ‘Wherefore?’ and sometimes he thought ‘Inasmuch as which?’ and sometimes he didn’t know what he was thinking about.” I can identify.