Counting is hard sometimes. I often find myself wondering why there are certain numbers of bear parts that make up my body. I know that I have four legs to help promote mobility and stability. I have two eyes to help me see (and count things).
But not everything about me seems to make sense. Some of my parts are simply uncountable. For instance, I often wonder how many strands of hair make up my fur. I have tried to count them many times but have failed miserably. Usually I lose track or fall asleep or run out of visible patches of fur (I once employed Rob (the squirrel) to help count all the fur on my back, but he wound up counting acorns instead; it was very confusing and unproductive).
My teeth are also difficult to inventory because I cannot see them. I have felt them with my tongue, but my tongue is an unreliable accountant.
I assume that the number of hair and teeth I maintain is an appropriate amount for bears and won’t fluctuate too much in the course of my existence. But if that number does change, do I become more or less bear? I hope not. I hope my bearness retains all the qualities that make me a bear despite any missing teeth or newly grown fur.
The perplexing nature of numerical values is also applicable to the forest itself. I know how many Rob (the squirrel)s there are. One. Just one. That much I know. But I have no idea how many trees there are. I’m sure I would eventually be able to count them all if I kept a thorough tally, or I if were to mark them so they would not be recounted, but other matters seem to take precedence over this goal: food, naps, rolling in dirt, more naps, etc.
Even if I could count every tree in the forest, what would it accomplish? I know that I would rest a little easier knowing that number, but would it shed any light on the number of other things around me? Probably not. What do trees know about the quantities of other things in the surrounding world? Very little, I would guess (no offense, trees).
Much like my teeth and fur, there are things in the forest that change so rapidly, they would be impossible to count. Take clouds for example. They shift and float across the sky without warning. They change color and disappear. How could anyone be able to keep up with that sort of behavior? Perhaps clouds simply do not want to be counted.
I am easy to count. I am one bear. One, single bear. I do not know how many other bears there are. I assume more than just me. Perhaps there are bears in other places beyond the forest. Or maybe even beyond the clouds.
Maybe, just maybe, there are more than just one of me. There could be infinite versions of me across infinite versions of the forest. If this is the case, counting my legs and fur and teeth would be acts of futility. How do you count to infinity?
I suppose counting things shouldn’t be so worrisome. Rob (the squirrel) says he never counts things and believes there is simply enough things around at any given time. I suppose, on some level, he has a point.
The hypothetically infinite numbers of me have yet to come crashing down on one another, so I guess things are as they should be.
Rob (the squirrel) ate three of my acorns.
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@