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.
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@