The other night I fell down a “bear attack rabbit hole.” (Is it still a rabbit hole if it’s full of bears? Unclear.)
What started out as research for a satire post I wanted to write ended in 2 hours of reading about how to tell if a bear is going to attack you, what kinds of bears are most likely to attack you, and how to survive if a bear does attack you.
(Answers: if it eats your face, all of them, and you don’t.)
Most notably, I learned that if a black bear invades your campsite, the best thing you can do is look it in the eye and sternly say:
“Get out of here, bear!”
Apparently that phrase hurts a bear’s feelings so badly that it packs up and goes somewhere else.
The story that blew my mind and also made me lock my doors was this one (warning for gore-y images):
Experienced outdoorsman. Survived one bear attack. Managed to walk away with all his limbs until about 10 minutes later when the same bear proceeded to maul him once again.
And then? Get this: the guy filmed himself walking back to his truck after attack #2 and posted it on Facebook. Covered in blood. Just to offer everyone a solemn reminder of why we need to be safe in bear country.
What’s most remarkable about Todd Orr — besides, y’know, surviving multiple bear attacks — is that it didn’t seem to deter him from getting back outside. Apparently he was out flyfishing before his broken arm had even healed.
I can’t imagine that.
I’ve recently started dating again and I keep telling my therapist that I’m already ready to quit.
“I’ve had enough heartache at my old age, Tracey,” I tell her.
“That’s the worst part.”
I’ve developed a strong aversion to anything that hurts, and while that’s great in the case of bear attacks, it’s less productive in the case of emotions. I won’t die from a broken heart — certainly not one caused by a dudebro who ghosted me. I won’t go down that easy.
Even so, whenever I go on dates I feel a deep sense of dread for two reasons:
- What if I hate him and wasted all this time driving to another town just to eat spaghetti with a human snoozefest?
- What if I really, really like him?
The second is confusing because of course I want to like him. That’s why I’m dating, isn’t it?
But liking him means taking a risk. It means going back into bear country knowing full well what’s out there, but doing it anyway because the experience will be worth something.
It’s acknowledging that I will probably get hurt. The odds of me finding Mr. Perfect who will never break my heart, even just a little, are zero. No form of love comes without a little pain. No reward comes without the risk.
The only secret to avoiding heartbreak is to never love anyone or anything ever, but then what the hell are you living for?
I might not share Todd Orr’s eagerness to get back outside, but I think he gets it.
If you want to enjoy this world, you have to accept that sometimes it won’t work out for you. Whether it’s a bear attack or someone rudely unmatching with you on Bumble, the pain is part of the game.
All that matters is whether or not you get back out there.