Things usually do not match what is in my mind.


I cannot see everything in the forest all the time. I have tried, but I am pretty much limited to just my field of vision, which is actually quite narrow when compared to the scope of the forest. Since I am limited in such a way, I usually rely on my thinking to conjure up images of things in the forest that are not near me. So, for example, I think about grasshoppers despite not really seeing grasshoppers very often. In my mind, they are green and a little brown and have strange, crooked legs and huge, shiny eyes. Usually, my mind accurately presents grasshoppers and their proportions and looks. When I see a grasshopper in the forest, it matches the grasshopper in mind.

That is a nice feeling. When my thinking is in line with the forest, everything is easier. It does not always work like that, though. Sometimes, my mind is horribly inaccurate when it comes to things in the forest, especially the feelings and difficult-to-describe moments in the forest.

I know how I feel in my mind when I think about the unpleasantness of the mocking sounds birds make when I slip in mud. I know that it makes me feel horrible and that their shrieking cries of contempt for me pierces the very bottom of my consciousness. It sits with me for days, and I can focus on very little else for quite some time. When I reimagine such an incident in my mind, it is the greatest tragedy to ever happen in the forest. It is the worst thing to ever happen to me. It is unbearable and horrible and I would never wish for it to happen again to me or any other creature.

It does happen again, though. It happens frequently, actually. In the moment, though, during the actual experience, it is not so tragic. It is still unpleasant, for sure. But it is not the end of the forest or the end of me. It is tolerable. Sure, the shrieking mocking that comes from the birds who witness it is no fun to endure, but in the moment, it is not so bad. I can live within that moment just fine. The strange thing, however, is that when I process that moment outside of itself, in my mind, isolated from the moment physically, I again think it is far worse than it really was.

And the cycle continues.

It works the other way around. Often great things that I adore in the forest let me down when I finally reach them. Berries are remembered with such intense fondness, but in reality, they are prickly and sometimes very sour. I still eat and enjoy them, but they do not live up to the status I have crafted in my mind.

Very few things ever do. So many things are exaggerated outside of themselves, and it is so incredibly difficult to truly realize that fact outside of my mind and reflective thinking. The real moment of experience is so often surprising, for better and for worse.

I am a bear.

If you would like to try being a bear, why not read some of the bear adventures available on this very site? 

For any questions or comments directed at Bear, feel free to write to him using this email: justasinglebear@gmail.com

You can also now use Tumblr to address questions to Bear. Also, you can find bear photos and such on Bear’s Instagram, and don’t forget to “like” Bear on Facebook.

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The angry ice.

I got caught in the cold yesterday. I had wandered away from my cave when it was not so cold, and then the cold crept up to me and grabbed me before I could get back to my warm domicile. At first, I thought it would be fine. I felt confident that my fuzzy fur would keep me shielded from the angry wind and the vicious rain. My paws felt stable as I plunged them into the mud, step by step, heading back to my cave for warmth.

Then the ice came.

The rain, which was already quite painful in the way it made little stabbing jolts through my fur, turned hard and sharp and pointy. The tiny shards pierced my eyes and nose and back fur. Each step toward my cave became an event for me, something that needed all of my attention and energy. I tried to focus on those steps and ignore the harsh pointy, cold shards of water who refused to hold back their hostile assault.

It was hard to see. The trees became blurry and eventually one. The cold was numbing. I thought, for a brief moment so that I could ignore all the ice and the beaten down feeling, about what the other creatures of the forest were doing to protect themselves from this. The birds were probably flying above it. The squirrels were probably hiding in holes in trees. Who knows how many insects and tiny fuzzy creatures were hiding under the mud. The trees just seemed to endure.

I kept trudging.

Then I saw the deer across the river. He was not across the river, though. He was just out in the forest. At first, I figured he had tracked me down, found my cave, and had probably created some horrible trap to ruin the finale of my challenging ice journey. But when I got a better look at him, he looked just as cold and lost and scared as any creature would be. He did not see me. His antlers fought through the wind and cold and wall of ice and anger.

Maybe it was a different deer, but it smelled like him. It looked like him. He eventually made a sudden turn, found a burst of energy, and galloped away from me. It was strange to see him so disarmed. He was just as susceptible to the harsh elements as I was. He could be scared and cold and alone.

When I got back to my cave, I checked it for traps. One of the rocks I had collected days before looked moved, but beyond that, my cave was just as I had left it. I curled up into a fuzzy ball and let my fur slowly dry. I had dreams about the river.

I am a bear.

If you would like to try being a bear, why not read some of the bear adventures available on this very site? 

For any questions or comments directed at Bear, feel free to write to him using this email: justasinglebear@gmail.com

You can also now use Tumblr to address questions to Bear. Also, you can find bear photos and such on Bear’s Instagram, and don’t forget to “like” Bear on Facebook.

It can be hard to learn from the forest.

Everything that happens presents an opportunity to learn something new. When I climbed a tree after a storm, I learned that some branches are not meant to be put through trials of wind and bear weight back-to-back. When squirrels made shrill, mocking sounds at me when the tree branch broke, I learned that not all creatures in the forest have an investment in your well being or the well being of tree branches. And when I realized I had landed on an anthill, I learned that ants are fast and angry and bite so much.

That was all useful information to have, and I did certainly enjoy the process of learning new things in the forest. It feels good to feel enlightened after a good learning. It feels good to be a new, better informed bear than the bear you were just moments ago. It feels good to expand your bearness through forest experiences. It really does.

Until it does not feel good.

Sometimes the forest teaches crucial lessons in challenging, angry ways, and when it does, it does not feel good to learn from the forest. It is awful actually.

A bird shoved its beak into my eye. That had never happened before. I suppose, in a way, I learned that such a scenario was possible, but I do not know if I really needed to learn that such a scenario was possible. Maybe the growth of my bearness was so small that I had a hard time perceiving it, but I did not feel like any more of a bear for knowing the possibility of a bird piercing my eye. My bearness did not feel expanded. The only thing I did feel was a horrible throbbing sensation in my eye, which made it difficult to see for a few days.

Plenty of treacherous things like that happen in the forest everyday. Branches break and land on you. Wind kicks up dirt that blinds you. Humans shout at you. Dumpster lids land on your paws. Fish bite back. In a misguided attempt to intimidate, you get too close to the deer across the river’s antlers and he reacts in a very disrespectful but, honestly, understandable manner. Parts of your insides make a snapping sound and a ripping sound and another sound you are unable to describe but can definitely feel because of the deer’s reaction.

All of those things have lessons to teach. They provide forest wisdom in some way or another. You get to know more about yourself or the place you live in or other creatures. I do not know if any of those lessons are worth experiencing those things, though. It can be hard to see their value. It can be hard to figure out why the forest would even bother letting you experience those things. It can be hard to learn from the forest.

I am a bear.

If you would like to try being a bear, why not read some of the bear adventures available on this very site? 

For any questions or comments directed at Bear, feel free to write to him using this email: justasinglebear@gmail.com

You can also now use Tumblr to address questions to Bear. Also, you can find bear photos and such on Bear’s Instagram, and don’t forget to “like” Bear on Facebook.

Bear instructions.

No bear ever sat me down and told me how to be a bear. How to push my paws into mud because it feels nice. How to avoid dipping my nose into the river while lapping up a refreshing drink. Why dipping my nose in water is bad. How to climb trees and not embarrass myself in front of birds (something I am still not great at). How to get into dumpsters. How to communicate with other dumpster dwellers. How to pick out a good stick. How to be a bear.

I had to figure out how to be a bear by myself for the most part. It involved a lot of guess work and mistakes and one time I almost drowned (the nose in the river thing was a hard lesson to learn). I have been considering creating and sharing a set of instructions on how to be a bear. I think it would be nice if other bears, even other creatures interested in being a bear, could have have some guidelines on how to be a bear.

I have no idea what exactly would go into the instructions. Surely the water and nose thing. But what else? What actions and experiences make being a bear? Do I catalog how I walk and eat and think and that time I saw twenty birds yelling at the empty vessel of a flattened raccoon? I am not sure what is most important about being a bear.

And I do not even know if I am the best creature to determine what is most important about being a bear. Surely there are other bears who have important ideas of bearness that differ from mine, and who am I to tell any creature that those views are any worse or better than mine are?

I suppose I cannot determine what the best practices for being a bear are. I can only determine what the best practices for being a me are. And I am a bear.

I am a bear.

If you would like to try being a bear, why not read some of the bear adventures available on this very site? 

For any questions or comments directed at Bear, feel free to write to him using this email: justasinglebear@gmail.com

You can also now use Tumblr to address questions to Bear. Also, you can find bear photos and such on Bear’s Instagram, and don’t forget to “like” Bear on Facebook.

I am just upset because I lost a very good stick today.

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I try to keep my temperament even while I slide my paws around the forest floor. Generally, I am quite good at this. I am resilient, at least outwardly, to the sometimes incredibly harsh ways of the forest and its often times challenging inhabitants.

When squirrels make chuckling sounds I assume are directed at me, do I let out some angry roar as a response? No, of course not. Do I go back to my cave and steep myself into the sadness such chuckling causes me? Sure, but that is on my own time and in my own place. Nobody but me and the mood of my cave are affected by that kind behavior. When the deer across the river looks at me with his disgusting glances and makes ear piercing coughing sounds at me, do I let out an audible challenging response back? Well, sometimes, but that only affects the deer across the river and me. When birds wake me from a deep sleep, interrupting dreams of plastic bags filled with delicious sauces and dumpsters inside of clouds, do I shout at the birds? Of course not (except once and I am very sorry about that slip in character).

I try to stay composed. I really do. I try to stay composed, especially, around others. Today, though, it was not so easy. I was irritable. I was rash. I made growling sounds at a tree I accidentally bumped into, sounds I had never heard myself make. I bit down on log I found. Like really hard. With anger. I do not usually do that, but today was an exception.

Today was difficult.

I lost a stick this morning. This stick was no regular stick, though. It was a wonderful stick. I found it under a tree near my cave, sitting among some other forest debris. It would have gone unnoticed if I had not almost stepped on it. This stick was a perfect length. It had a lovely taste. It smelled like leaves. Good leaves. It fit into my mouth with such ease and without bits of its bark flaking off into the depths of my throat.

I carried it off. I had no idea what to do with it, so I just walked around with it. It felt like I was taking it on a parade throughout the forest, letting every creature who would look know how proud I was of my beautiful stick.

And then I set it down to take a drink of water from the river.

And it was gone. At first, obviously, I blamed the deer across the river, but he was nowhere in sight. I ran around, stomping my paws loudly as I cried out for my stick! Nothing. The stick never called back (as sticks never do). It was gone. Maybe some smart bird took it while I was drinking. Maybe the stick simply found a way to leave me. Maybe the forest floor took it and buried it someplace deep beneath the dirt.

I do not know.

But that is why I was upset today. That was why I growled and seemed angry. Hopefully, it did not disturb anybody too much. Hopefully, that stick is still out there somewhere.

I am a bear.

If you would like to try being a bear, why not read some of the bear adventures available on this very site? 

For any questions or comments directed at Bear, feel free to write to him using this email: justasinglebear@gmail.com

You can also now use Tumblr to address questions to Bear. Also, you can find bear photos and such on Bear’s Instagram, and don’t forget to “like” Bear on Facebook.

I might look like something else from up there.

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Birds.

There are so many of them in the forest. They are all kinds of colors and shapes and have all sorts of different wingspans and attitudes. Some birds sing delightfully beautiful melodies as the sun creeps to its shining perch. Other birds let out soothing coos as the moon’s light bathes the forest and the stars guide the rest of us. There are birds who build impressively sculpted nests to secure their cheerful young and birds who dip their slender beaks with incredible precision into chaotic chunks of mud to end up with a bounty of worms. So many birds are so interesting and delightful and kind and do not attack me.

Some birds, however, are very mean. Some birds (one in particular, it seems) attack me whenever he sees me. Some birds (still this one) have been known to hurl his disastrous claws and beak at and into my ears for no reason other than for what I assume he believes is a good time. Some birds (again, not all, in fact not most, in fact, just the one) take a perfectly good rabbit skeleton I found in a dumpster and probably did not even eat it and instead probably just threw it back into the dumpster maybe, I assume, but I do not know for sure.

Truthfully, there was no reason to bring up birds as an entire group of creatures. It is really just one bird that has troubled me. I try to see things from his perspective. Maybe I look like a worm from up high, which would explain why he gripped into my brow with such fury after a dive so fast I could hear his hideous feathers pierce the air around them. Maybe I deserve all of this bird aggression because of some slight I committed against this bird or another bird or to the forest in general. Maybe there is no rhyme or reason to this bird’s chaos, and I am just an unlucky target of his hate-fueled conquest for joy.

It is hard to convince myself of any of these things because this bird has been after me for so many consecutive unpleasant moments. I do not know what to do. The bird does not listen to reason or offerings of a trash bag I found filled with used napkins.

Maybe this bird just does not like me. Without meeting me or trying to understand me, this bird does not like me, and maybe there is nothing I can do about it. I just have to accept it. I have to accept that some things, this bird included, just do not care for me no matter what.

I do not know how to accept that, though. This is not the first thing to not like me (deer, snakes, etc.), but at least usually that dislike is based around some kind of past event or pretense. This bird does not have those things with me. I do not know this bird. It does not know me. But it has its opinion of me well formed already.

I guess all I can do about that is know it exists.

I am a bear.

If you would like to try being a bear, why not read some of the bear adventures available on this very site? 

For any questions or comments directed at Bear, feel free to write to him using this email: justasinglebear@gmail.com

You can also now use Tumblr to address questions to Bear. Also, you can find bear photos and such on Bear’s Instagram, and don’t forget to “like” Bear on Facebook.

Even more human questions, bear answers.

Hello, I am a bear. I asked some humans if they wanted to ask me, a bear, some things. Here are some of the questions I answered from said humans. If you are a human who asked me something and I did not get to your question, I am sorry. I am sure it was a lovely question, and maybe if you ask again I might answer it? I do not know. I am sorry. Anyway, here are some questions and the answers I had for them:

Q:

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A: I do not have a set goal of the number of things I plan on sniffing during a given day, but I do try to sniff as many things as possible. There are just so many lovely smells to enjoy, so I do not like to limit myself with a set number of sniffing occasions.

Q:

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A: Berries, sticks, acorns, fish, very small rocks, leaves, discarded sauce-covered napkins, various dumpster findings, marshmallows, and anything I can find in a dumpster that is not claimed by angry raccoons or opossums. Spaghetti is good, too, but it is hard to come by. I once visited a place filled with humans who were all eating spaghetti and they yelled at me until I left. I did not get to enjoy any spaghetti.

Q:

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A: Might I suggest donning the finest pile of leaves and plastic bags you can find? I am not sure this will be appropriate attire since I do not know what a prom is, but I think I look quite fashionable when I wear leaves and plastic bags.

Q:

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A: I prefer the kind of honey that does not leave me with several stings on my nose and in my mouth. Would that be Orange Blossom? Does that one involve fewer stings and less pain and embarrassment?

Q:

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A: I have, but clouds seem to be quite fickle. Just when I think I am making a great impression on one, it decides to float away or turn grey. I wish I knew the secret to making friends with them. They are very interesting. And they look soft.

Q:

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A: Hide.

Q:

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A: I do not know what a zombie or an apocalypse are, but if me being a bear will help you, then I would certainly consider joining you. Will there be opportunities for naps and/or extended naps? Will snacks be provided? I am a bear.

Q:

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A: My only advice for GingerDog is to accept the inevitable horror that comes with deer being involved in your life in any capacity. There is nothing you can do. No amount of reaching our or wishing ill or trying to reconcile or spitting will take care of it. Deer will be there. No matter what.

Q:

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A: All kinds. All kinds of squirrels are very mean. I do not know why. Though sometimes I wonder if they are not mean but, rather, they have particular dispositions and my particular disposition does not get along with their particular dispositions. Or they are mean?

Q:

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A: Rob (the squirrel)’s only purpose is to be Rob (the squirrel), I think. I am sure he does that all of the time.

Q: 

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A: In no particular order:

  • Green snake
  • Brown snake
  • Other green snake

Q:

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A: I think about being a bear. Sometimes I just stare? I am a bear.

Q:

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A: Trees are certainly great for scratching any part of my body that itches. But their usefulness extends far beyond this. Trees give me shade. They provide food. And they are wonderful listeners.

Qs: 
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A: I do not know how many bears make a family of bears, but I am a single bear because I am just one, single bear. I am a bear. Just the one bear. There are more bears, I think, probably, but I do not know them, and I am just one of them. 

Q:

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A: Thank you for noticing. I put quite a bit of work into keeping my ears in pristine condition. In order to keep their volume and roundness, I rub my ears in the dirt for several minutes and then use pinecones to fluff them up. Also, belly rubs are wonderful.

Q: 

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A: I do not think one is objectively better than the other. I like all food and food-related products, be them sweet, savory, sour, smelly, or otherwise. I am a bear.

Q: 

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A: While their plumage is quite stylish, birds do not make very good hats. Instead, I would suggest using sticks and leaves to accessorize your ensemble.

Q:

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A: I have a very storied relationship with birds. My interactions with them have ranged from pleasant (that time those baby birds took temporary residence in my belly fur) to awful (whenever those mean robins laugh at me when I trip and fall). It is hard to really pinpoint how I feel about birds as a whole. I form my opinion on them on a bird-by-bird basis. I am a bear.

Q:

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A: I certainly hope so. I have no desire to test this, however.

Q:

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A: There is no “deal” when it comes to snakes. They are horrible creatures and they frighten me to no end. Have you seen them run? They have no legs, but they can run. It takes me four legs to run. I do not know why they exist, and I am certain they hate me.

Q:

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A: I do not know what most of this questions means, but have you tried looking in dumpsters? I usually look for things in dumpsters because there are so many things in dumpsters. You could try big rocks, too. There are lots of things under big rocks.

Q:

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A: I am a bear.

If you would like to try being a bear, why not read some of the bear adventures available on this very site? 

For any questions or comments directed at Bear, feel free to write to him using this email: justasinglebear@gmail.com

You can also now use Tumblr to address questions to Bear. Also, you can find bear photos and such on Bear’s Instagram, and don’t forget to “like” Bear on Facebook.