I have so many ideas running through my head this morning, but for now we’re heading back to my sister’s college graduation. I haven’t been in a graduation since my own, and I was pleasantly surprised at how moving I found the ceremony to be. There were many great gems shared by all the speakers, but that one that impacted me the most – and the one that I feel is most pertinent to share here – came from the president of the university’s alumni association.
He started off by talking about Winnie-the-Pooh. A little unexpected for a college graduation, but nevertheless, a favorite character from my childhood. The story that he focused on – as he told it – was about Pooh Bear going down the stairs. Every time Pooh Bear comes down the stairs, he bumps the back of his head; bump, bump, bump. When Christopher Robin asks him why he goes down the stairs that way – since it must hurt an awful lot – Pooh responds that it’s because he’s been doing it this way for so long, he didn’t realize there was any other way.
Then the alumni association president asked; “How many of us do things because that is the way it was always done? What can we choose to change?”
I know that there are many things in my life that are my “stairs.” I go down them – bump, bump, bump – because that is what I am accustomed to doing. Some of them hurt, but I’ve grown numb to the pain. Others hurt, but I don’t think there is any other way. And some create a hurt that I desperately want to stop.
It was one of those bump, bump, bumps that started this project. I think there is a lot of truth in the idea that we can choose to change those bump-causing actions. But it means that first we need to do an honest examination of what those actions are and be ready to be proactive about making a change.
Interestingly enough, I went to the original story to see if there were many more insights. And I was intrigued to see that it read slightly different than how the alumni association president told it at graduation. The quote from the book – which is the opening paragraph of the story – says this:
Here is Edward Bear coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way…if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it!
The main difference I see here is that Pooh recognizes that there probably is other way – but he is so busy bumping that he doesn’t have the time to think of it. Which I think leads to another important question: “What is distracting me from making those changes?” So many people (myself included) get to the point that they recognize change needs to happen, and may even get to the point where they have come up with a solution, but then they get waylaid from actually making the change because they allow themselves to get too distracted by the bumps.
So I guess the next question is, how do I stop the bumping my head long enough to think of and make the change?