Tag Archives: thoughts

Why do I have to not be a bear eventually?

not forever (2)

Can you win at living in the forest? Does living in the forest stop when you do well enough, or is the only end similar to the end of the anthill I accidentally sat on: nonexistence?

I have never heard of anyone successfully finding an ending to forest living other than the one detailed with my ant experience. That does not mean there is not another way out of forest living. Perhaps achieving it means being taken away from the forest, thus it would be difficult for anyone who has experienced it to communicate its existence to anyone who has not experienced it. Maybe there is a particular set of actions and mindsets that will help you not end up being the bird carcass I found inside my cave the other day. Maybe you can end up not nonexisting. Maybe you can keep being the thing you like being forever and ever no matter what.

I do not know.

Nobody does.

But I cannot help but to obsess over the possibility when I think about not being a bear (or an anything else for that matter). It is terrifying. I want to keep being a bear, and it seems strange to me that eventually, no matter what, I have to not be a bear.

Why do I have to not be a bear eventually? Why was I designed to be a bear so well for so long, only to have it eventually taken from me for no reason that I can figure out?

Why be a bear only to eventually not be a bear?

The most frustrating part about these questions is how useless everyone and everything seems to be when it comes to answering them. Trees? Nothing in regard to these questions. Squirrels? They seem unable to think beyond a few seconds ago and a few seconds from now. The sky? Well, the sky never says anything, so that is silly to even consider. For awhile I figured rocks might know (the depth of their wisdom is only matched by the hardness of their being and their effectiveness in chipping my teeth when I chew on them), but if they do, they are not sharing the answers.

It would be nice to at least have some kind of encouragement when these matters, some kind of reassurance that not everything about existing beyond right here and now is so daunting and terrifying. Nothing provides that, though. And, in fact, the forest is littered with clues to point to the opposite. Everything that stops being a thing in the forest does not get to do so gracefully. In fact, most things are just eaten or simply rot away (I cannot fault the forest too much for this, after all, since I do a lot of said eating).

So how can I win at living in the forest? What can I do to keep being a bear and not face not being a bear? What does the forest want from me in return?

Or do I need to just accept that I might not be a bear one day?

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.

 

I do not know what I cannot do.

forest rules (2)

Some tiny rodents spent a great deal of time building a tiny stick structure inside my cave.

Did you know you were allowed to do that?

I did not. The thought of doing so had certainly crossed my mind before. I had, on numerous occasions, considered building tiny structures within my cave (which is, itself, a kind of structure). I figured it was not allowed, though. Who would let such strange things happen with absolutely no consequences at all? Certainly, there had to be some rules on this matter.

It turns out there are no rules on this matter.

Or any matter, that is. Not in the forest, anyway.

After I accidentally slept on the rodents’ tiny structure (again, not against the rules but I am sure someone (probably the rodents) frown upon it), I decided I needed to try to understand the do’s and don’ts of the forest. After all, what if I was breaking forest rules, upsetting whoever created those rules (likely trees but a council of raccoons definitely seemed plausible as well).

I went exploring for answers.

I had no idea where to begin, so I just started doing what I like to do when I do not understand something: ask local squirrels and just sort of shout out my questions until someone or something answers them or I get sleepy and nap wherever I am standing.

My search was mostly fruitless.

Rob (the squirrel) (from whom I often seek perspective on various subjects because he thinks so differently compared to most things that think) said that there were no rules anywhere, that the word was meaningless, and that I should do whatever I please all the time until I die because that is all there is. Then he bit me and ran.

I suppose it would be nice to do anything I wanted forever and always, but I did not like Rob (the squirrel) biting me, and it would have been nice had there been a rule against that.

This was a complicated matter. What can you do in the forest? What can you not do in the forest? Who decided such things? Did I get any input on these decisions?

I still do not have the answers. I do my best to do what I think bears can do (eat grass, nap, stare at things, etc.) while trying to avoid what I think bears probably cannot do (get along with deer, fly, not nap, etc.).

It is intimidating to think I have to be my own rules compass, but if the forest cannot provide a set of rules for me and other creatures to follow, what am I to do?

Honestly, I just hope I am doing it right.

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.

Branches and roots and bark and being a home for others: I want to be a tree sometimes.

tree roots (2)

I like being a bear, but I would be fibbing if I said I never dreamed about being a tree. Trees are noble, silent, and everseeing and probably everknowing and smell great. Trees are tall and impressive. They taste good. They are fun to chew on. Trees are everything to everyone forever and never complain about having to fulfill that duty all of the time.

I like trees.

I am not a tree, though. I will never be a tree. And maybe that is for the best, but I do like pretending I can be a tree. One of my favorite pastimes is digging my pointy claws into the soft earth and pretending they are tangled roots to my tree being. I dig in and settle myself and let the wind and the elements run through my fur and my ears.

I pretend I can see everything in that spot forever. I imagine the seasons passing over me constantly and consistently. I imagine my fur as gnarled branches reaching toward the sky, acting as homes for birds and bugs and bees and leaves and light and anything else that is light enough to stay there when it wants to. I close my eyes and think about existing in the same spot for what must feel like always and experiencing that single spot for so long that you know everything about it.

Eventually the soil gets uncomfortable, though. I realize I am not a tree and shake the dirt off my toes and go back to being what I know I am: a bear. I will never truly get to experience the longevity or evereverythinging of treeness.

I only know how to experience bearness. I suppose that is not too horrible, but I do constantly find myself trying to know existing beyond what existing as a bear has to offer. I wish I could be like the raccoon I ran into while sleeping in a dumpster a few days ago who was chewing on his own leg and foaming from the mouth and (maybe even) the ears: I wish I could just accept who I am.

But I cannot. I think I always desire the -ness of another being, and I will probably always have a hard time accepting my own bearness. I can still pretend, however. I can still take a few moments out of my day to hurl my claws into some dirt and pretend that I am a tree.

Even if  I am just 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

I worry about what I look like when I run.

Bear running (2)

I run when I need to run. It has its uses, running that is. For instance, just the other day I saw a tree with no leaves on its branches and its twiggy limbs were smacking up against another tree that did have leaves, ripping the leaves from the leaved tree. I thought I saw a tree murder in progress and, though I am ashamed to admit it, I felt the need to run as fast as I could. I was lost in the forest all night after running aimlessly for so long, but at least I got away from the tree murder.

I also sometimes run when I have bursts of energy for no apparent reason. It feels good to stretch out my legs and feel the wind brush through my fur. And even though I feel tired when I am done, I feel quite refreshed shortly after running.

I actually like to run.

But I do not like doing it in front other creatures…

I was recently running through the forest after thinking an interesting looking rock I found was actually a ghost when I suddenly heard a chuckling. I looked toward the sound to find several squirrels (oddly none of them Rob (the squirrel)) staring at me and laughing hysterically. I stopped mid-gallop and stared back. They were heckling me. At least five squirrels. All heckling me. One even did an impression of me by placing its back end high into the air and shuffling its front legs frantically. The other squirrels laughed at the impression. One laughed so hard it fell out of the tree.

I did not stay much longer to see the crowd further analyze my running. I trudged (at a very slow pace) back to my cave to lick my wounds.

The heckles haunted my dreams that night. I had a dream about one large squirrel poking me with a stick as I tried to run, but when I looked down, I had no legs. No paws. No way to run. Instead, I rolled through the forest as the squirrel kept poking and stabbing me.

I woke up growling and shuffling my feet… frantically.

Now I am consistently worried about how I look as I run through the forest. I even find myself not running from time to time, even when I really want to. What if the squirrels are watching? What if other creatures are watching? What if I really do look silly as I run?

I do not like running as much now. I want to run. I want to like to run. But the constant fear of not running how I am supposed to run keeps me from doing what I want to do.

Maybe one day I can see another bear run. Maybe the example could show me how it is really supposed to be done. Maybe I can learn to like running and maybe I can learn to run how a bear is supposed to run or maybe those squirrels will just leave me alone.

Or maybe I will just walk from now on.

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

Eat everything you find.

opossum (2)

You must eat everything you find. It is an impulse you must have, an instinct that kicks in whenever anything edible (and most things are edible) is detected by your nose, eyes, or ears. Devour the target sustenance before anyone else can have the chance to take it. It must be consumed as soon as possible, without fail.

For better or worse, this is the relationship you must have with food in the forest. It is not an idea I have always believed. There was a time when I figured that all edible things were for anyone who needed to eat. I did not have any more right to the garbage can I found several cheese encrusted napkins in than any other living and willing creature in the forest. I have, a great many times, shared my findings with raccoons exploring the same dumpsters that I explore (though they usually do not seem to appreciate it). I have even left bits of food behind after I have had my share. There have been many clusters of berries that I have left only half picked so that other forest dwellers can get their fill.

I tried to stop this attitude the day I realized that other forest dwellers did not extend the same courtesy to me. Some time ago, during a cold, windy time of the year, I was having an incredibly difficult time finding food. Many berry bushels were stripped or dead. The river’s fish were gone (I assume because swimming in ice is very difficult). Even the bugs I sometimes snacked on seemed absent, making the forest feel barren and lifeless. I decided to check with the best source of food there is when the forest is having trouble providing: trash cans. There are several garbage cans and dumpsters I frequent. I have to travel quite far to get them, to places where the trees turn into human caves and the dirt turns into massive, flat rocks. Once you have the scent of one of these receptacles, however, they can be easy to find. I checked my regular spots. For some reason, on this particular day, they would not open. I scratched and pawed at every trash can I visited, and it was impossible to get the lid off of each one. Some little metal object was keeping the trash cans tightly shut.

I was frustrated.

When I got to my last trash can, there was a opossum waiting underneath some plastic bags near it. This trash can, like the others, was locked tight. I tried to ask the opossum if it knew of any open trash cans, but my questions were met with wild hissing. As I turned from the trash can to head back to my cave, I heard a creaking sound. I looked back to see what it was, and before my head could turn all the way around, I saw a black, full bag smack the ground followed by a loud slam where the creaking sound had been. I could smell the bag. There was something warm and delicious inside.

I slowly approached it.

The opossum quickly approached it.

The tiny creature ripped through the plastic and buried its pointy face into the bag’s treasures. I was patient. I watched, relying on the generosity of my fellow forest dwellers. Surely this opossum would leave me a shred of what was inside that bag. As I watched, waiting and trying to stop myself from lunging toward the bag, the opossum made a loud, horrible shrieking sound.

More opossums arrived.

I have no idea where they were hiding, but a small herd of pointy faced shriekers bombarded the plastic bag. The plastic was being stretched and clawed through. I could see the cluster of creatures climbing over one another as they chomped down whatever sustenance the bag had for them, their tiny toes and tails wiggling around, making it appear from the outside of the bag as though a million worms were inside.

Despite the grotesque imagery of the opossum feeding frenzy, my appetite did note wane, Naively, I waited still. I told myself that no creature could be so selfish and greedy as to take everything themselves and leave nothing for everyone else.

In an instant, they vanished.

I approached what tattered remains were left of the bag. There was nothing. Not even the slightest morsel of food could be gathered. I was enraged. I howled and growled at nothing. I ran toward where the creaking and slamming had happened, the origin of the plastic bag, and began clawing at the square shaped piece of wood that was there. Splinters caught my paw, and, in confused anger, I began to run around the plastic bag’s remains, still growling and howling, now in pain as much as rage.

The wooden square creaked open again.

A human stared at me.

I ran, frightened and angry. I was ashamed of myself, so I trudged back to my cave and licked some moss I found in a dark corner of my cave. I was ashamed of myself. I was ashamed for blaming the wooden square for my troubles (how could it have known opossums were so ravenous and self-centered?). I was ashamed for not helping myself to the plastic bag’s spoils. I was ashamed for assuming all creatures in the forest were invested in my best interests.

That was a very cold, long night.

Since then, I have been weary to let any fraction of the food I find to go untouched. I hunt and gather all nourishment and keep it and hoard it and never let a single soul outside myself know of its deliciousness.

Or, at the very least, I try to convince myself to do so. In practice, I still hold onto my old ways. I still leave behind pieces of food I find for other hungry forest inhabitants. I tell myself I should not. I tell myself that every creature is like those opossums. They will take everything right in front of you, but I am rarely actually able to stick to this philosophy.

I do not think every creature is like those opossums.

My instinct is not to take everything I want.

My instinct is try my best to live in a complex ecosystem that will not always be friendly to me.

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

A cricket slept in my mouth.

cricket

I do not know how I look when I fall asleep. I like to believe that my pristine fur calmly rests against the cool rock floor of my cave while my heavy, slow breathing gently vibrates through the forest’s night air. According to Rob (the squirrel), who has watched me sleep many times for reasons he will not explain to me, my entire body twitches as I rustle around on the ground, tossing and turning throughout the night and making sounds that are somewhere between growls and desperate gasps for air. Regardless as to which one is true, I would think it must be difficult for any creature to find a reliable place for repose near me while I sleep.

Yet one has.

I recently woke up to find something sleeping in my mouth. At first, I was unable to determine what the lumpy, salty mystery in my mouth was. I was tempted to just eat it (as I do with most lumpy, salty mysteries I find in or out of my mouth), but something told me to stay my jaws and wait. After a long morning of an open, dry jaw, I finally felt the tiny intrusion slip from my face. After shutting my mouth to let a torrent of soothing saliva rescue my tongue, I sniffed the ground below me.

What I found was a small cricket.

Perhaps small is not the right way to describe it (I have no idea if this cricket was small by cricket standards, but I do know that all crickets are small compared to me, trees, the sky, and even most mice). It was definitely a cricket, however small or big it might have been. It made a lovely chirping sound at me and then hopped away before I could ask any questions.

I did not put much more thought into the situation for the rest of the day. I was glad I had not accidentally eaten the cricket, but I also found its intrusion to be a tad bit inconvenient and somewhat unsettling.

Night came. I slept.

Day came. I woke up.

The cricket was in my mouth again.

I did not wait all morning to see if it would simply jump out this time. Instead, my tongue was its alarm clock as I pushed the cricket out of my mouth. It seemed startled, it chirped at me, and then it went on its way.

I must have made my point. The cricket never slept in my mouth again. I, at first, felt no remorse for my actions against the cricket. It was okay to sleep in my cave, I told myself, but I found it difficult to abide one sleeping inside my mouth without my explicit permission.

As the thought lingered in my mind, however, I contemplated how I sleep. I have never once asked my cave (and is not audacious for me to claim it my cave?) if I could sleep inside of it. I have napped on top of many things without explicit permission: dumpsters, abandoned campsites, piles of leaves, moss, a family of opossums (only once and by complete accident and nobody was permanently injured), on tree branches, and even under the sky.

I have never asked any of these things if I could have the privilege of using their personal vessels as my personal bed. And many of these things (except for the opossums anyway) tower in size compared to me as I did the cricket. I felt no need to ask something so massive for permission to rest on or under or inside of it, so why would the cricket feel it had to do the same with me?

I began to regret my hasty actions against the cricket, and I even considered how easy it could be for me to experience the cricket’s plight. After all, what could stop the cave in which I sleep from one day choosing to spit me out as I had done to the cricket?

Nothing.

Should the cave do so, I would be forced to leave.

The night of the same day I forced the cricket from my mouth, I went to sleep with my mouth open. Intentionally. I was awake for quite some time, waiting and hoping the cricket would show up and rest where it once must have felt so comfortable.

The cricket never came.

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?

I stepped on something crunchy.

bear paw

It is difficult for me to take the time needed to understand everything happening beneath my paws. As I walk through the forest, I surely step on many different living things: bugs, grass, dirt, glass bottles, and tiny sticks. All of these things are smashed and smeared by the tough, rugged skin on the bottom of my paws. Most of the time, I can deal with ignoring the sounds of these unfortunate beings, but sometimes they crawl through my ears and take unforgiving space in my mind.

Recently, I finally stopped to see what I could do about my intrusive paw stomping. As I left my cave, I took one step on the grassy ground and then immediately stopped. I then hurled my nose into the meeting place of my being and the ground. I searched for any living things. I shouted to all possible survivors, asking them to make some kind of sound to indicate that they were okay with my paw being here. I even asked the dirt that was being dug up by my claws how it was doing.

No response.

Not a single sound came from that tiny section of earth. For a moment, I deducted that I had just been overanalyzing everything about this situation. Nothing on the ground minds me being on the ground, too, I told myself.

I went on about my day.

A few paces later, I stopped in my tracks again and realized: the silence of the forest floor might have been caused by me. Of course no creatures made any sounds upon my request, I had been the one who silenced them all.

I ran back to the entrance of my cave and began to search for that first step of the day. As my paws slammed against the ground to make my way back to the origin of my destructive path, I mumbled apologies and begged for forgiveness. I even tried to keep my feet in my old tracks as to minimize the overall damage, an ultimately pointless effort as I ended up breaking several different plants by accident, not to mention the countless bugs and other lifeforms I likely disturbed or destroyed.

When I got to my first paw print, I hurled my nose into the dirt once more. I wanted to know what kind of mark I had left. Was it repairable? Did it leave the natives of that patch of dirt in disarray? Was I a monster? Did I need to spend the rest of my days in my cave, never stepping into the forest again? Could I live in trees instead? Would the trees mind that? Of course they would, they are trees and deserve to be left alone.

I could not find anything beyond the smashed dirt. I definitely killed the dirt in that part of the forest, but killing dirt to get by was something I had accepted a long time ago. I could not see any bugs, plants, or other creatures whom I had destroyed by accident.

I want to live as peaceful of an existence as I can. I know sometimes I will eat some bees or accidentally sit on a bird’s nest that got knocked down from a tree (I am so sorry, bird eggs), but I have to keep trying to ensure that my existence cooperates with everything else that exists in the forest. Everything (except for the deer across the river) deserves to live without being stepped on by something much larger than it. I hope dirt does not mind us all killing it all the time, but maybe that is how dirt lives its own peaceful existence.

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?