Bisy Backson

“Ha!” said Rabbit, feeling quite happy again.”An-other notice!”

This is what it said:




Rabbit didn’t know what a Backson was—in spite of the fact that he is one—so he went to ask Owl. Owl didn’t know, either. But we think we know, and we think a lot of other people do, too. Chuang-tse described one quite accurately:

There was a man who disliked seeing his footprints and his shadow. He decided to escape from them, and began to run. But as he ran along, more foot- prints appeared, while his shadow easily kept up with him. Thinking he was going too slowly, he ran faster and faster without stopping, until he finally collapsed from exhaustion and died. If he had stood still, there would have been no footprints. If he had rested in the shade, his shadow would have disappeared.”

You see them almost everywhere you go, it seems. On practically any sunny sort of day, you can see the Backsons stampeding through the park, making all kinds of loud Breathing Noises. Perhaps you are enjoying a picnic on the grass when you suddenly look up to find that one or two of them just ran over your lunch.

Generally, though, you are safe around trees and grass, as Backsons tend to avoid them. They prefer instead to struggle along on asphalt and con- crete, in imitation of the short-lived transportation machines for which those hard surfaces were de- signed. Inhaling poisonous exhaust fumes from the vehicles that swerve to avoid hitting them, the Backsons blabber away to each other about how much better they feel now that they have gotten Outdoors. Natural living, they call it.

The Bisy Backson is almost desperately active. If you ask him what his Life Interests are, he will give you a list of Physical Activities, such as:

“Skydiving, tennis, jogging, racquet-ball, ski- ing, swimming, and water-skiing.”

“Is that all?”

“Well, I (gasp, pant, wheeze) think so,” says Backson.

“Have you ever tried chasing cars?” “No, I—no, I never have.”
“How about wrestling alligators?”
“No . . . I always wanted to, though.” “Roller-skating down a flight of stairs?” “No, I never thought of it.”

“But you said you were active.”

At this point, the Backson replies, thought- fully, “Say–do you think there’s something . . . wrong with me? Maybe I’m losing my energy.”

After a while, maybe.

The Athletic sort of Backson—one of the many common varieties—is concerned with physical fit- ness, he says. But for some reason, he sees it as something that has to be pounded in from the out- side, rather than built up from the inside. There- fore, he confuses exercise with work. He works when he works, works when he exercises, and, more often than not, works when he plays. Work, work, work. All work and no play makes Backson a dull boy. Kept up for long enough, it makes him dead, too.”

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

available to read here:


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