July may be our most exciting month for book club so far, mostly because we had a pick and a half pick! I say one and a half picks because The Chemist was a little over 500 pages, and our next book was a little under 200 pages. Two books in one month? Bring it on. Most all of us listened to the YouTube version of second book anyway, which is only two hours. The tiny half book was about a tiny yellow bear and the grand Chinese philosophical tradition emphasizing living in harmony with the natural way of things: Taoism. The Tao of Pooh.
I don’t have a big Pooh Bear background; my childhood experience was very limited. We were more of a Peanuts family. I do remember a song about stretching though.
Coming into this book, I failed to see how Taoism had anything to do with honey and a chubby little bear in the first place. Also, I didn’t know what Taoism was. Apparently, though, Pooh is a Taoist and they have everything to do with each other.
Pooh truly is the epitome of Taoism. He’s not bothered, he doesn’t try too hard, he goes with the flow, he knows his limits, uses his surroundings. Poor Piglet is too anxious. Eeyore is too negative. Owl and Rabbit are too smart and clever. Pooh is just right and suddenly I’ve turned this into a Goldilocks story?
I learned a lot while reading, mostly that I am firmly engrained in Western ideology. I found myself bristling often at the way my thought process was being portrayed as inferior and silly compared to Taoism. HOWEVER, upon discussing the book with my best right before book club, I found everything about our conversation enjoyable and fulfilling. There were things from the book I definitely saw merit to but couldn’t see how to incorporate into my life as it stands. That didn’t mean those ideas were wrong though. During our chat, I got out of my American/Western headspace and into a more open mindset. It was a really nice balance; being accepting and understanding after reading versus closed off and offended while reading. I think this is why talking about books is so important. When you read, you only know your thoughts, but you need to get out of that sometimes and learn a little. Bend a little. That’s kind of some Taoism for you right there. Thank you, Pooh.
If you want to discuss and become fulfilled and enlightened as well, our discussion question for book club are below!
What percentage of Taoism do you think you could work into your life starting today? Would you like to ultimately get to a higher percentage, or just incorporate a few things?
Think of a time when going with the flow has served you; gliding over and around rocks instead of barreling through them as the book says.
Discuss an American, maybe Christian (or wherever you are) attitude versus a Taoist or a more Eastern mindset. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?
Did you find yourself defending you values against the teachings in the book or easily bending and yearning to incorporate them?
Did you enjoy the structure of the book? Did the many voices aid in your understanding or hinder it?
Talk about limitations. Talk about pushing past them or understanding where you are limited and coming to peace with it. Do you have a Pooh mindset when it comes to limitations?
Turning negative aspects into positive ones is a challenge, but a worthy one. Think of a positive thing to say about a characteristic that’s typically thought of as negative.