Bernard the Bear

Bears are made of the same dust as we, and they breathe the same winds and drink of the same waters. A bear’s days are warmed by the same sun, his dwellings are overdomed by the same blue sky, and his life turns and ebbs with heart pulsing like ours. He was poured from the same first fountain. And whether he at last goes to our stingy Heaven or not, he has terrestrial immortality. His life, not long, not short, knows no beginning , no ending. To him life unstinted, unplanned, is above the accidents of time, and his years, markless and boundless, equal eternity.

— John Muir

Somewhere between ages 12 and 26 bears overtook dolphins as my favorite animal. I can’t narrow down the time at which this occurred any further than this 14 year span, but I suspect it may have coincided with my growing love of the forests and mountains (except, wait – I love the ocean too, so that’s not a great hypothesis). I also associate bears with Yosemite because it’s the only place I’ve seen them outside of a zoo, and Yosemite is my favorite place in the world (except for long weekends in July when it’s jam-packed with buses and tourists with selfie sticks).

When we first moved into our house in San Francisco, I decorated the couch with two pillows painted with faces of bears. I spend a lot of time sitting on the couch looking at them and admiring how simultaneously calm and peaceful, yet strong and powerful, they are. If only I were half as multi-faceted and beautiful!

I have a lot of feelings about the concept of hibernation. It’s:

a) Funny. I mean… come on. Who can’t relate to a good hibernation meme?

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b) Incredible. How? Just… how does it happen? How can they do that?! (Don’t tell me to watch “Planet Earth” or read an article because I’ve done both of those things and I still don’t understand how it’s possible.)

c) A good analogy for life, hence the cartoon. I was thinking about the longer periods of time in my life where things feel dark and sad and depressing and disappointing, and how beautiful it is to emerge from those times feeling stronger and more grateful for the little things than before. All of a sudden, the small things that bring happiness seem that much bigger and more wonderful.

Share your thoughts!

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