Posted in Nature and Outdoors, SoCS, Weekly Features, Writing Sample

“Don’t Feed the Bears,” or Laying Myself Bare for #SoCS

I’m trying something a little different today. Usually, I read the prompt and let it simmer in my mind for a while. I don’t exactly plan what I’m going to say, but I get a sense of it, anyway.

Today, I’m not doing that. I will be writing this post as it rolls out, because, the moment I read the prompt, a thought came into my head:

Don’t Feed the Bears.”

It’s an edict from my days working and living in Yellowstone National Park. There, it was meant literally. You see, people used to feed the black and grizzly bears that live in the park. Before environmental issues were seen as they are today, it was considered entertainment to do so.

But when people feed bears, bears become habituated to receiving food from humans. Bears are scavengers, and omnivorous. They also spend winters in hibernation, which makes them nearly desperate to eat all they can in the fall, to store fat and energy to sustain them for the dormant phase ahead.

Feeding bears is a recipe for disaster, because bears are smart, strong, and LARGE. When people feed bears, people can get hurt, maybe killed. Things get destroyed – and, too often, that includes the bear, because once a bear is habituated, it’s nearly impossible to recondition them. They can be moved to more remote areas, if they can be caught, but that’s not much of an impediment to an animal that can smell food up to six miles away, and can cover a lot of ground.

A bear that has killed one human might kill again, and, no matter that Yellowstone is the bear’s home, and most humans are only guests, humans take precedence. A killer bear will be killed if caught – end of story.

But I don’t think I’m really hear to talk about bears in a literal sense.

“Don’t Feed the Bears.”

When you think about it, it’s not bad advice for life in general. Don’t feed the bears. Don’t give them more fuel than they already have. Bears belong to the wild world, and they’re meant to find their own fuel. It’s how they evolved, and it’s the way it should be…

Sometimes, the bears are not actually bears. Sometimes, they’re people – people elected to represent a nation, and lead it, for example. Hungry bears that feed on anger, hatred, prejudice, mistrust, fear, and a never-ending need for adulation.

Bears with a dangerous diet.

Bears who’ve never learned to seek their sustenance from within themselves, and so they roam the landscape ravenous, taking all they can get, anywhere they can get it.

Don’t let them take it from you. Otherwise, they’ll become habituated, as surely as a Yellowstone bear.

“Don’t Feed the Bears.”

It can also apply to what we feel. Right now, for instance, I’m dealing with some frustration with my Accomplice. It’s not a big thing; more one of those points of friction I suspect all long-term relationships have – a thing that can get in the way of smooth relating.

In the past, this type of thing would eat at me, pawing and clawing like a hungry grizzly, and I would feed it a steady diet rich in resentment, righteousness, helpless fury – things born out of my past growing up in an abusive, dysfunctional family that had nothing to offer in the way of conflict resolution. The bear of my angst would grow fat on that rich diet, and I’d be seething.

I do need to address this issue – its recurring nature makes that clear. But it’s not, ultimately, a Big Deal. It’s a little thing, a point of annoyance, and I’m maybe more sensitive in this place than others might be.

So, I’m not feeding the bear. I’m not centering myself in righteousness, or a need to change my mate, tempting though those approaches, which are old and familiar, may be. Instead, I’m turning inward in a slow, contemplative spiral. I’m seeking clarity, not to demand change from the man I love, but instead to understand why this little thing means so much to me. Often, in these situations, it really does have more to do with me than with him, and so changing him, or even being angry at him, won’t help to deal with whatever it is in me that makes this an issue for us.

“Don’t Feed the Bears.”

It can be hard to resist the temptation – but I’m focused, and conscious. Eventually, I’ll lay bare, at least for myself, the deeper issue, and then I can start to heal it….no bear-feeding involved!

How about you? What bears are you trying not to feed? When was the last time you laid yourself bare for yourself or someone else? Join the conversation!

This post is part of Linda G.Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday meme -an unedited stream of consciousness piece that ties into the weekly prompt: bear/bare,’  as part of a word or as a word, with bonus points for beginning and ending with those letters. If you enjoy this dip into the Stream of Consciousness waters? Come join in there’s plenty of room, and just a few simple rules.


I am myself. I own my life, and live with three other people who own theirs. My intention is to do only those things that bring me joy, and to give myself wholly to those things I do. Writing has been my passion throughout my life, and this will become the home for my writing life...because it brings me great joy!

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