The Lovely World of Bears 

When I think of bears, and of course being from New England, the first thing to come to mind is what to do when confronted with these wild creatures. If it’s brown, lay down. If it’s black, fight back. A fun little rhyme that I have tucked away in the back of my mind that only comes out when I see a real live bear on the side of the road or rummaging through a dumpster.

While mindlessly scrolling through social media, trying to fill empty time, I came upon a post that showed several pictures of bears. These bears, who most people see as deadly and dangerous animals, were photographed as sitting down reminiscent of a person, and just staring into oblivion. This scene of quiet contemplation spiked an interest in me. What do bears see? What do bears think? From all the research I could find (which consisted of a few google searching deep-dives), scientists cannot seem to agree whether they are simply resting or if they see aesthetic beauty while staring at landscapes by themselves. 

I like to imagine that they can see a hidden beauty in the world, it would be too boring and simple to brush off this peculiar phenomenon as bears just simply resting. So if we imagine, for just a moment, that when bears wander upon beautiful landscapes, they will actively choose to sit for hours on end to think about what they are seeing; to truly absorb all the sights in front of them and let their mind run away from the present responsibilities. This obviously raises the question of what even bear’s responsibilities are. They eat when they’re hungry and rest when they’re tired; but they don’t have to work a nine to five office job or attend school for the purpose of getting a better job. A bear has the freedom to act on the urges that come to them, the privilege to sit and watch landscapes to find the secret beauty that can only be unlocked through the payment of hours on end. 

You hear about famous painters and writers that stare at landscapes for hours and write the most beautiful passages. I remember reading Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway and having this short story stick with me all these years. The language is beautiful and the descriptions of the landscapes around Hemingway are crucial for contextualizing this text. Hemingway can afford the privilege of traveling to other countries, the free time allowed to develop these stories. I’ve got the life experience to talk about the scenario Hemingway writes, but I’ve never been to Spain and stared at the hills and let my mind wander on the stories I could write. How can I ever hope to become a great writer if I can’t even find the time to sit and stare at the hills to write these stories? 

I would give anything to live like a bear, to have the free time sit down and stare at landscapes for large chunks of time. I originally planned to write this essay after going to the nearby park and observing nature, writing on everything I see and hoping to uncover what the bears are seeing. This never, and could never, end up happening. I have to work two jobs on top of classes, and so the privilege of free time was something I couldn’t find. The realization of this is what led to the basis of this essay: if I cannot find the free time to live like a bear, then I will use the time I have to see the world through a bear’s eyes.

I began the process of the bear’s perspective while at work on a Saturday. My weekend job is as a salesperson for HVAC units at Home Depot, a not so glamorous job with not so much an impact on what I want in a future career. As a salesperson, my primary job is to wait for customers to approach me and answer their questions, and so often I find myself staring into oblivion until anyone will grace me with a conversation. On this day, because the weather is particularly mediocre, I decided to work outside of the store in front of the parking lot. While I stand awkwardly by the sales display, I let my mind wander at the landscape I see before me. It is not one I have chosen like a bear would, but I can at least pretend, for a moment, that this is a beautiful landscape before me. And with that mindset, I begin to ask myself all the things I can see and what secrets they might hold.

A gentle fog rolls over the mountain nearby, the mountain I believe being very close, maybe two or three miles down the road. What would it be like to hike it, to get to the top, and see everything I see but from an unbothered and distant spot, where customers can’t reach me, and life feels so unreal as if all my stresses and anxiety could fit in the palm of my hand 

The trees, shades of green and yellow and orange and red, when did they get like this? I never even noticed the change in color, something I realize I have taken for granted how fast things are changing unnoticed around me. A loud bird, maybe a robin or woodpecker, has made a nest in the tree closest to me. Why would that bird choose to make its house in the middle of the parking lot, doesn’t the bird understand that this is a dangerous place to raise their young, that this isn’t a real forest for them to settle down but rather a heavily busy industrial parking lot. This tree could very well be a literal family tree of birds, spanning generations upon generations, and this bird’s family has been here before the parking lot. Was this a tree that has stood the test of time and been here for decades; or was this a new tree planted here to add to the aesthetic beauty of a Home Depot parking lot. Why do the leaves even change color? I know this is something I could look up on a whim but isn’t it more fun to see it as a mystery, and so I seem to find myself in some sort of stability of naivety. 

Maybe this is the mystery that bears see the world through, maybe not knowing the answer to everything and finding peace in letting the mind wander on the beauty of life is truly the most beautiful idea that bears have developed. Even though I don’t have the privilege of free time like bears, I can at least make the most of how I see the world, which has to be the first step in truly living like a bear would. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *