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.

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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.

The pros and cons of mud: why do birds think it is okay to laugh at me?

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Why mud is good:

  • Smells neat
  • Feels neat in between toes
  • Feels neat in nose
  • You can lick it and nobody will yell at you
  • It tastes pretty okay
  • Even the chunky parts taste pretty okay
  • You can eat however much you want
  • You can keep eating it and nobody will yell at you
  • It is nice to not be yelled at
  • There has been a lot of yelling in my life recently, and it is nice to have a peaceful moment where nobody is yelling at me
  • Sometimes I wonder if I attract yelling, I ask myself if I do anything that warrants so much yelling, but that is unfair, I cannot help that I am whatever about me that gets me yelled at so often
  • Like yesterday, I was walking around some human caves and they were shouting for some reason and it seemed like maybe they were shouting at the glowing boxes they were near inside their caves but also I had a feeling it was about me?
  • Perhaps it was not about me, maybe the yelling from those humans had nothing to do with me
  • Maybe none of the shouting I hear is about me, maybe the creatures shouting are shouting because of something with them
  • Mud feels good on my belly
  • I need to learn that not all things that happen in the forest, even the things that I experience, are strictly about me, maybe things shout because they want to shout and there is nothing I can do about it
  • I like mud, and I like sloshing my feet about in it

Why mud is bad:

  • Oh no
  • I slipped
  • I slipped in the mud
  • But I like mud
  • Why would mud do this to me
  • No, mud did not do this, mud is just mud and I slipped
  • It is not mud’s fault
  • I fell again
  • And slipped
  • That has to be because of the mud
  • Why, mud
  • Why betray me
  • Please, mud
  • I think those birds saw me
  • Those birds definitely saw me
  • And they are laughing
  • I think they are laughing
  • And shouting
  • Shout-laughing
  • Or maybe they are making bird sounds
  • Mud has betrayed me and now birds are making fun of me
  • And possibly shouting at me
  • No
  • This is not about me
  • The mud is just mud
  • The birds are just making bird sounds
  • Or
  • Maybe
  • They are not
  • Maybe everything is against me
  • I am so saddened by mud
  • And birds
  • And shouting
  • And everything not being about me
  • Or everything being about me
  • Please
  • Mud can get stuck in your nose, and when it dries that is not pleasant

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.

An open letter to the deer across the river.

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Dear deer,

I am a bear. In case you do not know which bear I am, I am the bear across the river who you sometimes glare at or spit towards. For as long as I have gone to the river (a favored place of mine for swimming, staring at my reflection, and trying not to drown when I catch fish), I have always seen you there. Sometimes you just drink the water from the river. Sometimes I am quite certain you are cursing me in some fashion. Sometimes you just stare at me. And I stare back.

There is a tense, ever present conflict between us that I am certain is rooted in a violent ancient history neither of us can truly comprehend. I sometimes feel like there has always been a deer and a bear staring at one another across that river, and the bear has always been a noble, beautiful beast, and the deer has always been an intolerable plague on the bear’s gentle sensibilities. I do not like admitting this, but I do not like you. You upset me. I can smell your rancid fur from across the river, and I would rather dip my snout into the muddy bank below than get any closer to your terrible stench. Also, your antlers are ridiculous.

I am sorry, and I take back the last comment (I am actually quite envious of your antlers because they are simply majestic). I do not want to add further damage to our already fragile relationship. My intentions are to do the opposite. I want to heal whatever ails between us. I want to learn to go to the river and not be disgusted by the horrible drool that drags from your filthy, surely disease ridden mouth.

I apologize again. That was uncalled for (though influenced by real experiences and feelings I have had).

I want to learn to accept you and everything you are, even the things about you that dig trenches of hate into the depths of my soul. I want to learn to share the river with you without you spitting at me and without me running from the horrible hacking sounds you make with your mouth and nose at the very same time.

We do not have to be friends, at least not at first. Perhaps never. But we do need to learn to accept one another. We need to learn from each other’s perspectives. I welcome you to my side of the river with open paws. Come drink with me one day. I promise I will not gag at your putrid smell or the way your strange teeth seem to be in a perpetual state of falling from your face.

And as for what you have done in the past to offend me, all is forgiven. As I am sure that you will forgive all I have done to offend you.

Thank you, deer, and I hope to see you soon,

A bear (across 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.

What if I am the last bear?

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I have not seen another bear in a long time, and my total bear sightings is really quite small (unless you count times I have seen myself (which actually sometimes leads to me thinking I am seeing another bear (which is scary))). Of course, the most likely of scenarios is that the forest is much much larger than I could ever even fathom, so the bears are out there just not around me.

Still…

I worry…

What if I am the last bear?

The thought has kept me restless many a night in my cave. I stare at the black, pointy wall of my cave and wonder how similar it must be to the future of bearness and bears in general… Bleak and… pointy. I am not sure what that could mean, but it scares me.

Even though I am just one, single bear, I often feel like I have more to contribute to the forest in general. Surely there is forest or bear wisdom I can pass down to other bears or even other creatures of the forest. How will anyone ever learn my perfected technique of rubbing my fur in leaves until it is has the balanced amount of fuzziness? Surely someone in the forest, especially a younger bear, could benefit from such knowledge. If I were to perish (probably by deer) without sharing this knowledge, and I am truly the last bear, what would happen to that information? Where would it go? Would it venture off to wherever I would go? Would it fill the empty space between the trees in the forest, waiting to be learned by some willing and interested creature? Would it just stop being?

If I am the last bear, then is there even a point to my personal continued bearness? Do I even need to be a bear if my legacy of being a bear stops with me? I like being a bear (though I do not have any basis of comparison, to be honest), but something about being the final bear of all bears upsets me. It makes me wonder if I am what all bears before me were leading up to or if those bears before me even cared. Maybe they all thought they were the last bears at some point. Maybe they just kept being bears because that was what they knew how to do. To be bears.

I am sure it is just some strange anxiety that is coiled at the base of my bear head somewhere that keeps this idea alive. The chances of me being the final bear seem low. There have to be more bears out there. I am sure. Maybe.

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.