Confession: I used to be a bit of an Eeyore. Just like the famous stuffed grey donkey, I was prone to gloominess and pessimism. I may not have said aloud, like he often did, “thanks for noticin’ me,” but that could sometimes describe my vibe.
So one year on my birthday my husband surprised me with a spontaneous trip to Austin, Texas for the annual Eeyore Birthday Bash.
I’d never heard of it, but not only is it a real thing, it’s a University of Texas tradition that dates back to 1963, making it (slightly) older than me. In the original Winnie-the-Pooh books by A. A. Milne, poor Eeyore assumes that everyone has forgotten his birthday, only to find out they’ve planned a surprise party for him.
This inspired students from the UT English Department, in what has to be one of the most interesting excuses for a party, to put together their own Eeyore picnic that, fifty-four years later, has become the longest running free event in Austin. It takes place on the last Saturday of April and includes a flower-draped donkey, a maypole, beer, and of course, honey.
This Eeyore was really stretched beyond her comfort zone when she was put on a plane bound for Texas (really, Texas?) with no idea what to expect. My doubts were so heavy that it’s a miracle we were able to rise above the clouds. What clothes did my husband pack for me? Did he remember my face soap? My eyelash curler? And the big one: who could possibly think this kind of spontaneous travel is fun?
While I may never learn to roll that way, I did learn a few things about bouncing. Because even though the festival was in honor of Eeyore, the spirit there more closely embodied Tigger, the cheerful, outgoing, confident friend who loves to bounce.
Winnie-the-Pooh once said this about Tigger: “He always seems bigger because of his bounces.”
As I turn another year older this week, I’ll think of Eeyore and all the friends who helped him be a little bigger. And to celebrate the Eeyore and Tigger in all of us, here are five great reminders from the Hundred Acre Wood that never get old:
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.” –Winnie-the-Pooh
2. Give others the benefit of the doubt.
“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.” –Winnie-the-Pooh
3. Appreciate simple gifts.
“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today,” said Pooh.
“There there,” said Piglet. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.”
4. Live from the heart.
“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
5. Be grateful.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” –A. A. Milne
Are you ready to shift from Eeyore to Tigger? Every bounce starts with the tiniest movement, the smallest gratitude, the most basic effort. Even Eeyore knows this. When Winnie-the-Pooh asks him, “So, are you finally happy, Eeyore?”
He says, “No. But I sure do like this new tail.”