I stepped on something crunchy.

bear paw

It is difficult for me to take the time needed to understand everything happening beneath my paws. As I walk through the forest, I surely step on many different living things: bugs, grass, dirt, glass bottles, and tiny sticks. All of these things are smashed and smeared by the tough, rugged skin on the bottom of my paws. Most of the time, I can deal with ignoring the sounds of these unfortunate beings, but sometimes they crawl through my ears and take unforgiving space in my mind.

Recently, I finally stopped to see what I could do about my intrusive paw stomping. As I left my cave, I took one step on the grassy ground and then immediately stopped. I then hurled my nose into the meeting place of my being and the ground. I searched for any living things. I shouted to all possible survivors, asking them to make some kind of sound to indicate that they were okay with my paw being here. I even asked the dirt that was being dug up by my claws how it was doing.

No response.

Not a single sound came from that tiny section of earth. For a moment, I deducted that I had just been overanalyzing everything about this situation. Nothing on the ground minds me being on the ground, too, I told myself.

I went on about my day.

A few paces later, I stopped in my tracks again and realized: the silence of the forest floor might have been caused by me. Of course no creatures made any sounds upon my request, I had been the one who silenced them all.

I ran back to the entrance of my cave and began to search for that first step of the day. As my paws slammed against the ground to make my way back to the origin of my destructive path, I mumbled apologies and begged for forgiveness. I even tried to keep my feet in my old tracks as to minimize the overall damage, an ultimately pointless effort as I ended up breaking several different plants by accident, not to mention the countless bugs and other lifeforms I likely disturbed or destroyed.

When I got to my first paw print, I hurled my nose into the dirt once more. I wanted to know what kind of mark I had left. Was it repairable? Did it leave the natives of that patch of dirt in disarray? Was I a monster? Did I need to spend the rest of my days in my cave, never stepping into the forest again? Could I live in trees instead? Would the trees mind that? Of course they would, they are trees and deserve to be left alone.

I could not find anything beyond the smashed dirt. I definitely killed the dirt in that part of the forest, but killing dirt to get by was something I had accepted a long time ago. I could not see any bugs, plants, or other creatures whom I had destroyed by accident.

I want to live as peaceful of an existence as I can. I know sometimes I will eat some bees or accidentally sit on a bird’s nest that got knocked down from a tree (I am so sorry, bird eggs), but I have to keep trying to ensure that my existence cooperates with everything else that exists in the forest. Everything (except for the deer across the river) deserves to live without being stepped on by something much larger than it. I hope dirt does not mind us all killing it all the time, but maybe that is how dirt lives its own peaceful existence.

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?

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