And though their working relationship was apparently not the smoothest, the wisdom of entrusting Ernest Howard Shepherd to give Pooh and his friends form
, and bring them visually to life, is far beyond doubt.
Pooh and Piglet send regrets, as forwarded by Ernest Shepherd.
As I looked at these rather worn, tattered old toys, I couldn’t help but wonder “What makes these things much more valuable than gold or any kind of precious stone, no matter how vast in quantity, exquisite, or rare? Why might these tiny figures well be considered national treasures, belonging not alone to the Americas, or to their native England, but to the world? What can begin to explain the number of people that must make the trek to the Children’s Room in that particularLibrary, often with children of their own? And then just stand there, quietly, or whisper in hushed and reverent undertone to their loved one?”
“What first breathed such life into these humble toys (see how very small Piglet stands?) those many years ago, when even the oldest now among us ‘were all very young?’
Piglet, close up, on the small side but confident with Eeyore at his back.
And what is it about them exactly that touches people so, and always has, each new generation after the next? How can they remain so perenially fresh when everything else is always changing?”
And the answer that occurred to me, with a singular clarity, was simply this: Love.
One of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes Sunday strips, October 1993. (To view larger, just click on image and return to browser using back arrow.) It says so much. The great Bill Watterston, as his idol Charles Schultz years before him, undertook a long and bruising struggle in fighting to get a strip into the newspapers. He says it was the talking tiger that finally opened up that door. The rest is history.
Which in turn got me to thinking: Did you know that, without the gift of that vision you carry in your heart for those that you love, they might feel themselves more as these tattered old dolls than truly alive and filled with potential? In a sense, it is your love that fills their sails and sets them on course for each day’s journey.
Yes, you. You don’t have to be perfect to give good love. Look into their eyes, you’ll see. The important thing is to never give up. Love is never just for others, though that toxic notion is indeed commonplace.
And: are you consciously aware of the ones in your life that are giving you life, perhaps imperfectly, but as best as they can?
Just some food for thought. The problem with the word “love,” in probably every language, is that it means so many different things that it can come to mean nothing at all. And, it’s often reduced to the simply romantic, or even sentimental.
Yet these simple stuffed animals helped bring home to me, once again, the greater force, energy, and pure power behind that mystery we call, in shorthand and because we must call it something, love. There is nothing known in all of Heaven and Earth, nothing even close, to be called its equal. As poetically expressed by ee cummings:
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
“This is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.” Now, that is an immense physical force, none the less ancient or reflective of sublime rhythms because it might be reduced to theoretical calculations and equations in Physics.
And the real wonder of it is, it’s inside you right now. With every beat of your heart, every breath you take. It extends outward through your voice, and spreads with your touch. Why? Who knows?
But what of it? Well, that is very much up to you. Why not celebrate it, yes, even now?
I wound up creating for Alan a desktop wallpaper, and called it “Love Gives Them Life”:
Please feel free to download and enjoy it, if you like. I’ve also added a variety of other images there, because I enjoy facing a new image on my computer quite often (as long as I’m going to have to be sitting in front of the damned thing, anyway!):
Thank you. I know it’s not easy, sometimes. So, again,