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Columnist Peyton Poitras writes on embracing the spirit of a small yellow bear

It is no question that the world is in a dark place right now. Chaos and anxiety may dominate, but there is always a light to be found in the darkness. It is times like these where I like to embrace something simple and constant, something like the spirit of a small, yellow bear. In honor of "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh," which celebrated its anniversary on March 11, I would like to share my college essay with you. (Yes, I did write my college essay on Winnie the Pooh, and yes, it has worked out for me so far.)

Let's play a game. The premise is simple, the instructions brief. Scour the ground, the great Eastern ball of fire a guide from above, eyes burning with dust and morning grogginess. Set your sights on a stick, any will do — fluffy with moss, stubby, coated in the stickiest of sap — and hold it tight. Locate a bridge, preferably one quaint in stature. Don't know where such a place exists? Well, I'd say follow your heart but that fleshy organ has better things to do. Rather, you should follow your ears. You know you're close when burbles and babbles and ripples and trickles echo louder. Here, atop this bridge, facing the current, is where you must stand and let go. Let go of your stick, the treasure you just acquired, and watch it float — watch it soar. It matters not if you are alone or have a companion for this game to work. This is how you play Pooh Sticks.

Pooh Sticks? Yes, Pooh Sticks — the game of a certain willy, nilly, silly old bear named Winnie the Pooh. As a seventeen-going-on-eighteen-year-old myself, Pooh is represented in roughly 217 ways across the shelves of my humble bedroom — a bit of an obsession, I admit. We may try to sever the worlds of child and adulthood, but why must society consider subjects like Pooh to be, well, childish? Is it childish to believe in the ideology of a bear? Not when that bear has admirable values -- when that bear is someone who cares not about the opinions of others, eating and dressing in whatever manner he pleases. Not when that bear is someone who recognizes and values true friendship. The problem with the world, as I see it, is that people seek clear answers yet dismiss the simplicity of those found in childhood tales.

Let's add a flair of complexity to our little game. One could set up a formula for finding the perfect Pooh stick. Afterall, why leave the act of stick selection up to fate? Only a dozen or so measurements need to be taken: the cross section area to the nearest millimeter, density using grams to the nearest hundredths, and the drag coefficient (which is equal to drag divided by the quantity of density times half the velocity squared times the reference area). A simple calculation for a simple game, right? Not exactly. What this scientific process fails to incorporate is the thrill of selecting the stick at random, of watching it sail by at some mystery rate. If complex calculations cannot improve the function of a simple scenario such as Pooh Sticks, then how are we expected to deal with the not-so-simple scenario that is life itself? Perhaps we must reconsider the essence of Pooh's game, the light hearted attitude one takes when selecting a proper stick.

Life is an experience not a problem to be solved. I would be a hypocrite, however, if I said that I never tried to solve life's problems in as mathematical a manner as possible. But a formula has yet to solve common health complications, let alone hardships, thrown my way. It is counterproductive to fret over circumstances out of your control, so find contentedness elsewhere. Recognize the beauty in letting go, in watching your stick meander down the stream — meander as if it was a thought in the wandering mind. Standing there on that bridge, leaning over and watching the water slip away, I did not come away knowing all that is to be known, but rather all that needs to be known.


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