I recently found a bundle of absolutely terrific leaves just sitting about the forest floor. I stared at them for awhile, admiring how perfectly crinkly and brown and orange they seemed. After taking in their lovely aesthetic, I rolled around in them, as I have done with many leaves I have seen for as long as I can remember.
This has been a routine, normal thing for me to do for a very long time, and before now, I had never put much thought into it beyond the simple pleasures it had brought me. It was almost as if I had always assumed leaves were there for me to roll around in. Now, I am not quite sure the truth is anywhere near that.
After the last time I rolled around in perfectly crinkly leaves, I took a moment to look upon the destruction I had unleashed onto them. They were completely destroyed, dilapidated, decimated. Ripped asunder by my careless rolling. My want for the crunch of their tiny leaf selves beneath my not-very-tiny bear body overshadowed my ability to consider what they were being put through. I had ended so many leaves just because I liked to roll around on them.
The mangled leaves got me thinking about how often I must ignore the results of me pursuing my interests and wants. How often do I do something for me, all the while ignoring how everything else in the forest is affected? When I break a branch on a tree while climbing it, I focus on the hurt I feel when I hit the ground, but what about the tree? Does the tree not also feel hurt with a once perfectly good branch ripped from itself? Does the water in the river have any interest going into my mouth and through my bear body? I have certainly never asked it.
When I thought about how my actions affect everything in the forest, I started to realize that most of my forest interactions are positive for me and horribly negative for the other party. Of course, some are unavoidable. Sorry, river water, but I need to drink you and you show no protest against it. But do I need to roll around on leaves? Of course not. I do not know where to begin when it comes to making sure there is a balance between my actions and ensuring their positive affects on others, but maybe it begins with being more aware I am not the only creature, the only thing, the only being in the forest. I am one, single bear among many other creatures and such, and understanding my own bearness certainly must involve knowing how it affects those others.
For any questions or comments directed at Bear, feel free to write to him using this email: justasinglebear@