Feeding the Bears

Photo allegory by Sarolta Ban


We all have a hunger that gnaws at us each and every day. The happy and content and productive among us have found a way to feed the bear that dwells inside. The rest of us, listlessly opening the refrigerator for the tenth time in an evening; those that sit mindlessly nibbling on carrot sticks or cupcakes, the discontented, the restless and fretful: our bear is hungry.  Perhaps we’ve all been in both places.

It isn’t just compulsive eating, or mindless eating, or eating for comfort that is feeding something other than that true hunger.  Sometimes we are quite careful about what we eat, but we can’t get started with exercise, or a project, or anything much. We’re just spinning our wheels, neglecting whatever it is that our true self craves and killing time.

Sometimes people find the answer by accident. Perhaps you move– across town or across the continent or across the globe– and you land in a place that “fits” you better than the place you left. You feel energized by the change. Maybe you happen upon an activity that “feeds your soul,” that just feels both compelling and essential. More often, though, you have to search for that which you truly ache.

It’s just like having a craving. Say you really want a chocolate milkshake. So you have a banana. You still want a chocolate milkshake. You have a glass of some sweet beverage, perhaps a diet soda. Now you really want a chocolate milkshake. You eat grapes, yogurt, a 100-calorie snack pack of mediocre cookies, a glass of milk, another 100-calorie snack pack, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a slice of cheese and more grapes. You’ve eaten long past anything resembling real hunger. And you still want a chocolate milkshake.

Should you give in to every dietary exception, each passing whim? Probably not. But you have to learn to identify the things you really want and seek to fulfill them. The same is true in your life. If your relationships are out of kilter, if you’re neglecting your own dreams, if you’re not being true to the most important person in  your life (that’s you, by the way) your bear will be starving. And we all know how grumpy a hungry bear can be.

I have identified the bear in my life, for now. I’ve named him Orville, for reasons that are obvious to those who know me. If I am not working on The Book — if I am letting other responsibilities take the limelight (as sometimes we must) the bear grumbles. I’m cranky. I get de-railed and can’t get started on anything. Days pass. I nibble. I nosh. I stand in front of the refrigerator. Wanting.

William Faulkner said “Everything goes by the board, honor, pride, decency to get the book written.”  Let me tell you, he knew he had to feed the bear. I have not gotten to that point. I still lay down What I Should Be Doing to help my kid get enrolled in college, to help my friends out of tight spot, to play with my dogs. And sometimes just to noodle around on Facebook, or go shopping, or watch television– those are less noble, and they distract me too.

Half the battle though is embracing the bear, his noble head, his lumbering gait, his mighty roar within us; and thinking about how to answer those needs, because that’s where happiness lives.

Target today: 74  Steps: 5775

Breakfast: two eggs, yogurt with granola. Lunch: salad without lettuce (egg, avocado, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms with a little bleu cheese), a quarter cup of Chex mix. Mid-afternoon, yes, a S’more. Dinner: Wheat thins with two ounces of warm brie. Iced coffee.




6 thoughts on “Feeding the Bears

  1. Some of us are obstructed from feeding our bears. Orville sounds like a patient yet insistent bear. My own bear is akin to Sydney Carton and must be content with his fate for the greater good. I believe Orville will be satiated in time. I hope I am there to read it! … and I’d go have a chocolate malted with you while I pour over the pages. Good Luck!

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