My Life as a Bear

My grandmother will be 90 years old in June. She was telling me this over the phone yesterday and I could sense her fear of turning 90 and thought about how many steps her feet have taken over the span of her life. I thought about her growing up in Cuba and Spain, getting married and having a family then watching her only son leave his country. I thought about her moving to a whole new world in Miami – leaving her country behind too.

I asked her if she ever wrote. She said she didn’t much anymore and I told her that she should write all the lessons she has learned in her 90 years down. I was hoping to someday read them and learn about my great grandmother curing colds with fresh eucalyptus leaves or about a country brewing with revolution and then struggling with despair in the aftermath.

I think it’s human nature to not know what you have in front of you until it’s not there anymore. Youth is fleeting. I keep thinking that and trying to convince myself not to waste any time and then I feel exhausted from thinking about all the things I should be doing with my life like returning to Miami, building my own legacy professionally, listening to my elders’ stories more so not to lose my own history… I start thinking about how tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and why I am not living the life I need to be living now?

I may feel like I need a pause from the madness of the unimportant things I give significance to only to realize that nothing else pauses. That while the bear wants to go into her cave and hibernate during the winter there will be a different forest in the spring. The winter may have killed away some decay, some dying trees and the newness of fresh buds and baby insects buzzing await outside the cave. Life does not give one the luxury of pausing so that you could figure out its purpose. It’s a forest of challenges you to keep moving out of necessity. The only option is movement.

I am an animal, always. It will always come back to me being that bear in the woods responding to her environment. Animals don’t have existential crises about the meaning of life – they see a branch in their path and they move past it, they track their prey and they eat, they meet someone and they mate. They take what they need to survive and then they procreate and die leaving enough of this world for their offspring to enjoy for generations to come.

For now, there is no rest, there is only movement. Eyes focused on my prey with the vision of a better world for humanity’s offspring in my mind’s eye and I take the leap.

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