Poohsticks. To the uninitiated, the word may sound like an expletive, but those who know will, of course, be familiar with the game first mentioned in A. A. Milne’s book ‘The House At Pooh Corner’ in which you throw sticks in a river from the upstream side of a bridge, then race over to the downstream side to see whose comes through first.
I have fond memories and photos of a 1980s day trip to Ashdown Forest, where the original Poohsticks Bridge (it used to be called Posingford Bridge) is still to be found. Everyone should have a game when the opportunity arises. Any bridge will do.
Of course, the players can’t actually see what happens under the bridge, but it’s every bit as fascinating to watch a twig float down a stream or river when your view is unrestricted.
While one might visualise it moving unimpeded down the centre of the waterway, the more realistic outcome is that it will take a zigzag course, briefly bumping into one bank or another (or kissing an overhanging branch) before once again going on its way.
That makes its progress slower than it might otherwise have been, of course, but it’s just the way nature works.
Perhaps it’s an apt metaphor for the way you and I sometimes go through daily life? We know that having contact with others tends to be good for our wellbeing, but now and then I’m certainly inclined to swoosh through things without making time for others. There are almost certain to be dozens of opportunities to connect during the day, and added together they can be really beneficial, but all too often one can be self-absorbed, missing out on the chance to top-up on together time.
I’m not necessarily talking about significant connections: little interactions with shop workers, neighbours, officials and even passers-by can all add up.
So don’t rush down the middle of the river today, ignoring everyone. Feel free to meander (just a little) and enjoy bumping into the banks of life.