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It can be hard to learn from the forest.

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.

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 do not know what turtles are doing.

turtle stuff (2)

The greatest mysteries of the forest always lie within something you cannot see. The inside of clouds? Nobody truly knows what is going on in there. Rocks? It is impossible to truly understand them (at least through their insides). I had no idea what was inside a tree until I slept in a log by accident once. It involves a lot of bugs and wood, though, I can tell you that much.

That brings me to turtles. No other creature in the forest is so forward with its limbs while being so mysterious about its belly/back/torso area. On one paw, I feel like I know a lot about turtles: they move slowly; they like to eat leaves like I do; they smell interesting; and they look like they generally enjoy life and the forest. On the other paw, I feel like nobody knows anything about turtles except for other turtles.

When a turtle slides its pointy head into its shell, there is no telling where it goes or why it goes there or for how long it will be there. Asking is no help, of course, since they usually respond to queries by going into their shells.

So what is going on in there?

I have a few guesses, but they are really just that. Maybe the inside of the shell is their true home, and it is where they stash their collections of wonderful forest treasures (leaves, rocks, etc.). Or perhaps they go into the shell mainly to get out of the sun, which can be very hot and uncomfortable from time to time. Part of me hopes the shell is just a decoration, something turtles get at an early age that they customize as they get older.

Like I said, it does smell nice, so there is that.

Not knowing about turtles and their shells is frustrating. I like to relate to other creatures of the forest as best as I can, but with turtles, it seems nearly impossible. I want to know what it is like to have a shell on my belly/back/torso area. I want to know the purpose of having a shell other than the nice smell.

To try to emulate the experience, I have often pretended that my cave was a kind of shell for me. I poke my head and my forearms outside the front entrance of my cave and pretend I am traversing through the forest, understanding the plight of the turtle.

It is not very… authentic, but I feel like I have to try.

But maybe that is the truth about the turtle shell: I am not supposed to understand it. After all, I am not a turtle. I do not have a shell, and I never will. And maybe it is okay to not be able to truly understand something about someone else, no matter how interesting you might find it. After all, there are probably things the turtle would like to know about bearness that the turtle could never understand. Maybe one day one will ask me about them.

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 the book of faces.

Naps do not always make me feel as good as I want them to make me feel.

napping (2)

I sleep often.

I enjoy how sleeping makes me feel both during and after the sleeping, so whenever I need those feelings, I try to sleep. Napping is a big part of my sleeping, so, generally speaking, napping makes me feel good (or is supposed to make me feel good).

Not every nap does what it is supposed to do, however.

Recently, my naps have ceased to give me the feelings of comfort and weightlessness that used to accompany them, the naps that is. Now when I nap, I feel strange and even more tired than when I decided to nap. Things feel fuzzy and hostile when I wake, as if the forest decidedly kept moving without me, the trees taking a vote on the matter and coming to the conclusion that most trees prefer to move the forest along without me, a bear, over waiting for me to nap.

I know that is not the case. I think (hope) trees like me, and I assume they are probably far too busy with tree matters (sticks, leaves, things blooming or falling depending on the weather) to even think about my naps, especially not maliciously so.

Naps do that now, however. I no longer feel refreshed and ready to continue the day after a brief nap. I want to feel that way, but it just does not seem to happen like that now.

I have thought about what has caused the downfall of my personal naps for awhile now. I have no conclusive proof of any kind of cause, but I do think it might have something to do with distractions. I feel more distracted now than I used to, I think, which makes it difficult to let go of my thoughts and feelings (a process that is necessary to create and maintain a lovely sleeping/napping condition).

I keep thinking when I should be napping. This is a problem.

I find it much more difficult now to let go of these thoughts and feelings. The thoughts are many and varied. It is not as though I have one, single line of thinking when it is time to rest, like something I know will help me sleep instead of hold my sleep back. I think about the forest and the creatures of the forest. I think about bearness and my bearness or my lack of bearness or how I even know what bearness is or if bearness is even a thing. I think about naps and how thinking keeps them from being enjoyable (that line of thinking is particularly frustrating). I think about today, yesterday, and tomorrow, but never as though they are connected in any manner, which, now that I am thinking about that thought, I think they might be.

All of these things sprint around my mind when my mind should be shutting down and preparing to nap.

I want my naps back. I never knew I would miss them so much.

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 the book of faces.

More Human Questions, More Bear Answers

I frequently get questions through Twitter and Facebook about various things. Whether it is life as a bear, things about the forest, bear advice, or personal questions, humans and (possibly) other creatures are always curious about all aspects of bear living. While I am not here to represent all bears, I do like to respond to these questions as best I can by using my personal experiences and viewpoints. I decided it might be nice to answer some more.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
I have seen so many rocks, so it is hard to keep track of every single one of them. I did see one that I thought was shaped like a bear from afar. When I got closer, it was actually not shaped like a bear. It was also not a rock. It was actually a very angry raccoon holding a rock and hissing at me. And we were in a dumpster together. That was probably the neatest looking rock I have ever seen. Maybe.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
Probably not. One time I put some cans I found into a hole I dug and waited for rain. Does that count?

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
I once thought I had found an entrance to another dimension or some kind of time-warp, but it was actually an abandoned tent with a mother opossum nursing her children. I only know that because Rob (the squirrel) jumped inside, shouting something about going back in time and saving the prehistoric squirrel. He quickly ran out and reported a very angry opossum and several newborns. I hope that family of opossums is still living there, happy and healthy. Oh, and one time I found an acorn with two mismatched halves for a cap. That was fun, too.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
I highly recommend rolling around on the ground for several minutes or until you get too dizzy to keep rolling. If you have done that already (you probably have), you should consider talking to as many trees as you possibly can. Trees have great things to say and are very open to sharing their thoughts and experiences.

Human Questions:

Bear Answer:
Moss is maybe one of the greatest gifts of the forest. It is not secretly wet, it is openly wet (usually), which makes it great for chewing on, resting on, and smelling. It also looks wonderful with its relaxing grey and dark-green colors, making it perfect for constructing a hat or a lovely scarf. Moss is amazing. I highly recommend moss. Any kind of moss. I actually do not know if there are different types of moss, but if there are, you should try them all.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
I have never met any mountain goats, but I am sure you can trust them. And even if they wrong you (and you know there’ll always be a few things, maybe several things, that you’re going to find difficult to forgive), there’s going to be a day you feel better.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
You can eat snow.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
I do not have a five-year-plan. I understand it is good to plan and to have goals, but I usually try to enjoy whatever event or thing currently occupies my time. This is not always easy either, however. It is very easy to get distracted by what you do not know or want to know or know too well. I still try, despite often failing, to enjoy the taste of the tree I am licking or the fact that I am not being mocked by deer or the faint glow the moon has when it shines through a lightly cloudy night. Your five-year-plan should probably be to just do your best. Not much more can be asked of bears, or even human I would guess.

Human Questions:

Bear Answer:
The wind is very loud and very pleasant and makes your fur stand up and smells neat. I like the wind.

Human Questions:

Bear Answer:
Smelling things. Licking new things. Finding new smells. Finding new tastes. Looking at things. Digging holes.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
It is important to look for things to eat everywhere you go. Always keep your nose up and sniffing. If you are still truly unable to find anything to eat, you might need to ask for help. If you are kind enough and lucky enough, you might be able to find a friendly squirrel or raccoon who will not attack you and instead share their own findings. It is always better to ask for help than to go hungry. Being hungry is not fun.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
I try not to think about it too much, but it is a realization I have had. It is not an easy thing to have in your brain as you try to traverse the forest in a peaceful manner. It is completely out of my control, however. If there were more I could do in a meaningful way, I would. I just try to occupy my brain with other thoughts.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
Bees and I do not usually get along very well.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
If you are being attacked by panic, the best thing to do is to remember that whatever is causing your panic to attack you is probably not always going to be making your panic attack you. Whatever it is, it will probably one day not be around, making your panic do awful things like attack you. You are not stuck. Also, try to think about trees or finding food in a trash can or moss or other lovely things that calm you down in moments of intense stress.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
I think you should be more open to sharing the berries. Always share your berries.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
Not that I know of.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
Regardless of gender, please do not urinate on or near bears. I would also suggest utilizing your mouth in order to make human speech patterns. I believe that is how most humans do it.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
Yes.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
Are you sure that was a rock? Rocks do not usually pinch unless they are under a lot of pressure.

Human Question:

Bear Question

Bear Answer:
Rob (the squirrel) is the only squirrel who talks to me. I see other squirrels all the time, but they seem too vested in whatever acorn related businesses they are working on to spare any time for me. Perhaps they have other bears to talk to.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
Grow as much fur as you like until you feel you have grown enough. There is no such thing as too much fur. You should survey your current body mass and decide whether it is best to increase or decrease your size based on what other activities you decide to do besides foraging

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
I am absolutely content with being a bear. However, I sometimes wish I had thumbs. Thumbs would be nice.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
Of course. My moves consist mostly or rolling around on the forest floor, shaking my head, and tumbling. I call it the Doing the Bear. You should try it at home

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
I have endured many struggles as a bear. But I would say the toughest has been trying to get all the peanut butter out of a discarded jar. My tongue only goes but so far. Parting with the unattainable remnants at the bottom of a jar is the hardest thing I have experienced. That and coping with the deaths of fellow woodland creatures. That is hard, too.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
Being a bear… And fur. Lots of fur.

Human Question:

Bear Answer:
Birds.  I am certain birds carry on conversations with the moon as they sing and whistle throughout the night and day. Who else would the moon talk to? Not me, apparently. I would like to talk to the moon.

 

Thank you, again, for asking me questions. I am always so taken aback by how interested many of you seem to be in my life as a bear. I apologize if I did not get to your question. There were so many to choose from.

I hope you enjoyed my responses. If you need more bear things in your life, you can read my bear thoughts on Twitter or try being a bear with my choose-your-own-bear-adventure story. I look forward to answering more of your questions sometime in the future.

Thank you.

-A bear