Land of the Spirit Bear

I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer; for as long as I can remember the wind has carried melodies, certain trees protected on the off chance a fairy had made it her home, the night sky a reminder of endless possibilities. Never a Santa Claus or Easter Bunny believer; appalled by the indignity of slapping fairy after tooth – my spirit thrived and grew on the certainty that ancient people accomplished feats beyond explanation because they revered the world around them. Before Christianity and organized religion closed the minds eye, before worshipping the sun or seasons became a sin, and before pondering the stars resulted in  death on a fiery stake – mankind listened as the earth spoke.

I don’t want to debate religion – I want to ponder what mankind seems to have forgotten.

I find it so disheartening that technology, science, and religion have eradicated “wonder”. Wonder as in awe and reverence; not Godly rhetoric but honest to goodness, gob smacking, holy crap our world kicks ass wonder. Few people gaze at the stars – the cosmos practically invisible from artificial light pollution. We Google answers, opinion or solutions to questions without any attempt to solve them ourselves. Divisions insulate us based on religion or politics – both of which have agendas of their own. Media irresponsibly turns fiction into fact under the guise of “opinion”. Technology lulls us into a false state of invisibility, while our connection to the earth collapses under pressure. Instead of opening our eyes to natures signals, we genetically alter perfection – all in the name of the almighty dollar. Mankind is out of control – simply because we’ve forgotten how to slow down and wonder.

Children’s classics like Mary Poppins and Peter Pan capture the essence of my dismay. Children who could talk to the birds while very young, or never grow old in Neverland. Written as fading gasps for an inexplicable longing; sensing something was lost but unable to remember what it might be. Knowing an emptiness simmered just under the surface, yet never being able to put your finger on it.

My life is no different; despite my beliefs I’m caught in a hamster wheel just like everyone else. Sometimes something happens to shake my world back into perspective. If I’m lucky, when I least expect it – my world becomes crystal clear. Two days on Vancouver Island brought me back from the brink. Not 5 paces into the trail at Cathedral Grove, I stopped as the gently swaying giants whispered to me. I had entered the land of the Spirit Bear. My senses trembled,  years fell along the path;  each footstep taking me closer to wonder. My nose filled with the scent of cedar and damp moss, I heard sounds from birds in the canopy to moles deep underground. Nothing escaped me; I was awake and alive in a techno-colour dream. Aboriginal spirits danced in splashes of sunlight; their voices telling the story of how Raven created the Spirit Bear to remind him of a time when the world was covered in ice and snow. I made a silent promise not to forget that moment.

13 thoughts on “Land of the Spirit Bear

  1. Outstanding post! One of the reasons I have always identified with the the truly Native Americans is their respect for all that is nature. They have an understanding of balance, of give and take…symbiotic conceptualism.

    • Many years ago my husband, myself, and our children were driving a completely deserted stretch of secondary highway across a Navajo reservation in the American south west. We hadn’t seen a soul for ages, and had pulled off the highway to watch a massive thunderstorm approach.We were mesmerized watching the sky when suddenly a voice began to speak. We turned to find an elderly Navajo man who told us why mother earth had sent the storm. He spoke about how she cared for the land; his voice tired and sad as hail and lightning raged. I had tears streaming down my face – it was a moment beyond description.I couldn’t say how long we stood there but we turned to thank him, to let him know how much his words mattered, to let him know we heard and appreciated his wisdom. He was gone, as in vanished! Our kids thought we had lost our minds as we drove along that road searching for him.That moment has had a profound effect on my life ever since.

  2. In this, your fear, there are no national boundaries, indeed, no boundaries at all. The pell mell rush towards labor saving, high technology, questionably green, Utopia seems to have infected most of the world and only a few outlying places and a relatively few rebels and whackos like ourselves seem unwilling to climb on board the Cocoa Puff Train to sentient overload.

    There are many things that still astound me, but it bothers me that I can feel my own jaundice-ment. I know when I’m being blasé and cynical and sometimes I simply cannot stop myself.

    Part of our reason for eschewing life in bricks & sticks is our mutual desire to recapture some of that magic of youth, to live a life not quite so sheltered, a little more exposed, not nearly as plantable or regular in the hopes that just because we have gotten to a point in life where we have seen many things — that we don’t get to the point that we think or behave as if we have seen it all.

    Each morning we wake to the sound of Momma Nature’s critters outside the RV. It’s great to STOP to look at bugs and fungi and larvae and flutterbies, but I still realize that I am not yet seeing these amazing sights with the same wonder that I once did.

    I wonder if it’s possible to regain all of that?

    How much of wonder is innocence?

    Once it rolls off the leaf, you can’t put the dew back where it amazed you; sparkling in the early morning sun. Perhaps that’s why we chose RV’ing — we have camped before but this was something different we could do that we could afford as a reasonably longterm experiment; retiring into the same thing we had been doing in our working life would have stolen all of life’s magic I fear. Too much same oh, same oh, same oh. I have no idea how long we’ll be able to do this RV thing. One year? Five years? Twenty years? Health and happenstance will have more to do with that I suspect than conscious choice. But I for one am happy we’ve had the chance. We have forestalled the plummet into feelinglessness, and to me that is priceless.

    I hope you keep your silent promise; it’s a promise worth keeping!

    A retired Photographer looks at life
    Life Unscripted

    • “the cocoa puff train to sentient overload” – love it! Still laughing 🙂

      Seriously though; I’m labelled a “nut job” for talking about fairies – subtleties of the metaphor seemingly lost.Open my mouth about sun spots or geo-magnetic storms and jokes about my tin foil hat roll in.Graciously chortling along in mock joviality – all the while thinking “what is wrong with everyone”. Clearly I don’t actually talk to the birds, yet I listen to them. The morning Mt. Saint Helens erupted, I was getting ready for work with the patio door open.I stopped in my tracks taking a moment to understand what had changed. Then it struck me – the silence; there wasn’t a sound from chatty birds who seconds ago had been gossiping about a beautiful spring day.I looked at the time because I was now running late. This happened 5 minutes before the mountain exploded. They knew, as in holy crap – they knew!

      • It is interesting how animals perceive danger before humans. In 1989 I was living in the SF Bay Area and was in the middle of teaching a class when I looked out the window and saw a standard size poodle that belonged to one of our visiting executives was literally flying through the air as if trying to gain his balance. All four legs were at least a foot above the ground level. That was seconds before the Loma Prieta earthquake occurred…an earthquake strong enough to collapse major sections of the bay bridge.

      • Nut Jobs of the World Unite…

        Seriously though, I hear your pain. My touches with magic have been different but just as alienating.

        Humans seem to have this compulsion to feel in charge, in control and some simply cannot allow that we puny creatures don’t know everything. I remember growing up in a time when ‘dumb animals’ were spoken of — and today those ‘dumb’ creatures are known to be of similar intelligence as some of us humans — just in different form, using different senses, in other environments. But 100 years ago society thought very differently about many things — as will be the case 100 years from now.

        My solution — before blogs — was always to keep my mouth shut about some of my experiences and some of my thoughts/ideas. And about … goodness… I just realized it’s been nearly 20 years ago now … I stopped shutting up and pretty much turned our life upside down by refusing to live a dual life. From then on it was this is who I am — take it or leave it. Some left, I left others, and some stayed. I’m happier and healthier now than ever and I don’t have to pretend. Of course — now I’m also retired so there isn’t any fallout any more — I can be outspoken when I choose, or not, without cutting my own throat (as in not being able to put food on the table).

        All that aside, the sensitivity of critters to numerous stimuli that we are completely ignorant of is not only fascinating but the less foolish among us have always welcomed the parakeet in the mineshaft. It’s those who poke fun and scoff who are really at greatest risk in the same way that driving through a red light in rush hour is foolish. WE (as in society) learn infinitely slowly. Sometimes I wonder whether we learn at all. We have more toys today than the Greeks but we also lack a great deal. We bombed Iraq almost back into the stone age and destroyed art treasures we ourselves cannot duplicate — much less create out of the magic within us.

        Just be happy you ARE different. It’s not a cross to bear, it’s privilege others don’t get to enjoy.

        A retired Photographer looks at life
        Life Unscripted

  3. Well….you definitely have my attention now. I love your fearlessness of being labeled. My computer is going bizurk here….I’m getting the html for you post. sigh…

  4. We all have to embrace the wonder we can find in each other, if I witness sensitivity to nature for instance, I become more sensitive to nature myself. I’m very curious about what connects us all on some telepathic level, some world soul or overmind.

    • Being of a curious mind I have to ask – where do you live? I only ask because I find it fascinating to equate perspective with surroundings. Don’t feel the slightest obligation to answer 🙂 One thing for certain – I’ve learned people are what they and generalizations are pointless.

      I’m Canadian living in Vancouver. My work is making fabulous parties happen for a major catering company. Husband of 32 years a Lawyer and 3 grown children who have dubbed me “the MOST” (master of small talk), a skill honed over years in hospitality You?

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