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How I handled a bee I saw after it saw me: a series of mistakes that led to a strange triumph.


As the air gets warmer and the forest gets greener, it is clear that spring is shaking the forest loose from the harsh, extensive grip that winter sometimes seems to have. It is, generally speaking, a welcome change in my daily forest interactions. The mud from the rain is nice. The air is warm but not wet yet. Trees seem to enjoy it. Flowers certainly do (and you can eat those, which is a bonus).

The forest seems slightly more pleasant in the spring than it does during other times of the year.

Until you see a bee.

I have seen a great many bees in my lifetime, and bees and I generally have an understanding: I will keep sniffing things and ignoring you and you will keep being a bee and ignoring me. It is reasonable to me, and most bees are quite polite about the policy. It is best, for all creatures involved, if we ignore one another.

Today, though, I admit, I failed. I failed to ignore a bee.

I saw the bee.

And then it saw me, its deep, midnight gaze piercing through my very bearness, tearing its way through everything I have ever thought I was. That moment lasted a small eternity, if that is possible. In that moment, I obsessed over the worst possible thing that could happen as a result of this encounter: stinging things. If you have never been stung by a bee, consider your life a lucky, fulfilled one because being stung by a bee might be the worst thing that can happen to anyone who encounters a bee. It is such a devastating, awful event that when a bee stings you, it rids itself from the forest entirely, likely because of the guilt it feels for bringing such terror to another creature’s life.

I did not want to get stung. And I did not want this bee not be a bee anymore (even if it was terrorizing every bit of my sensibilities). I did what any normal creature would do… I yelled at the bee. I was hoping this would scare the bee, but it only yelled back, its harsh buzzing sounds echoing through my fuzzy ears, a shrill reminder of the pain to come after the inevitable stinging.

So… I did what any normal creature would do after yelling at something with no success… I ran at it… In the moment, it felt like the right thing to do. I knew I was much larger than a bee, so I figured it would be terrified of my largeness multiplied by my speed.

It was not.

It hovered above me, as if to mock my grounded paws. It had the high ground (or, air, I suppose) and was surely about to strike. I, again, did what I thought any normal forest creature would do… I closed my eyes and gasped, my mouth sitting wide open just long enough for the bee to fly right into it…

I panicked. I ran. I shook my face violently. And then I spit. The bee hit the ground, covered in my saliva. I felt terrible. What had I done to this poor bee, its only crime being its sight of me?

Its tiny wings fluttered, shook my spit from it, and it unceremoniously took flight. Before I could ask for its forgiveness, it was gone, back in the depths of forest it came from, away from me.

I was shaken by the event. I felt a strange mix of guilt and triumph. I fought a bee, which usually ends with at least one causality, and we both lived to tell the tale. And I think I even won.

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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Accepting snakes: why I want to but I cannot.

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Snakes are horrifyingly terrible terror serpents who I assume only exist to make life for all other living organisms in the forest more difficult and exhausting.

I apologize for that very aggressive introduction, but snakes and I have a long, horrible history, and that history is almost completely based off snakes intruding on my personal space (mentally and physically) and harming me (mentally or physically).

When I push my emotions to the side and truly contemplate snakes as creatures in the forest (as they well deserve), I know they exist for reasons that are likely too complex or important for me to thoroughly understand and process. Snakes have a purpose. I know this. However, I wish I knew that the importance of this purpose outweighed my aggressive loathing for them.

I cannot figure out their purpose, though.

Why are snakes here and why does the forest need them and why can they not just leave me alone and exit my mind and my cave and never come near me ever?

I asked other creatures of the forest why snakes existed. I received varying answers. A opossum screeched at me (I assume she is afraid of snakes, too). The anthill I asked seemed neutral on the subject, responding mostly in silence and very organized rows of many, which makes sense given that ants seem to only care about ants, dirt, and how ants interact with dirt. Rob (the squirrel) (from whom I did not expect a rational or just answer) said that snakes have only one purpose: to be questioned about by me. He then laughed at me and stole an acorn I had found.

I also asked a lizard. My thinking was that lizards look quite similar to snakes (except for the legs and discernible body/tail and generally pleasant disposition), so perhaps lizards had more insight on the subject. The lizard said that everything has a purpose in the forest, and that often the purposes are very subtle and involve food. He added that these purposes only exist in the construct of the forest and have no value outside of the forest and, therefore, meant almost nothing on any scale larger than the forest so making cosmic sense of anything was ultimately futile and a waste of time. I liked the first part of the answer (it was difficult to consider the second part because of the food part of the first part), but it did not help. Are snakes food? Do snakes make food? Should I eat more snakes?

Snakes are a part of life. They always have been. They always will be. No matter how much I want snakes to not be a part of life, there is no changing these facts. I have to learn how to live with snakes. Or I have to begin eating all snakes (which I do not want to do because they have pointy teeth and the few times I have eaten snakes I felt a deep, uneasy essence in my being that I was unable to get rid of for days, even weeks on in).

Maybe I can just try to talk to snakes. I do not think I have ever done that. Maybe understanding snakes is like understanding any other creature: you just have to get to know them personally. And not eat them or assume they exist only to ruin your life.

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

Also, thank you to everyone who participated in the survey-based adventure Bear embarked upon on Twitter last week. Thousands of you voted to help him decide what basic decisions to make about his day. It was very fun, and he hopes to find time to do it again soon. 

PS

I talked to a snake and it bit me.