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Clumsy As A Bear

One of the items on our vacation agenda last month was a trip to the Memphis Zoo.  Of all the  animals on display, my favorite was the polar bear.  I am in love with polar bears! Maybe it's because they are so beautiful in their luxurious white fur coats.  Other kinds of bears... brown bears, black bears, and grizzly's have always felt far more intimidating, though certainly the raw power of this huge white beast is formidable.  There is no doubt he could do serious damage if I encountered him in his domain; in fact, I would most likely meet my fate as a tasty dinner.  Yet still, I cannot help but watch him in total awe.


While observing the bear's movements from the other side of the glass observation wall, I remembered an expression from my childhood... "clumsy as a bear".  It's true that bears on land seem rather ungainly, lumbering along with their big behinds, knocking over barrels and wrecking havoc at campsites while searching for something (or someone) good to eat.  Yet, as I watched this beautiful beast slip into his swimming pool time and again in pursuit of food being dropped to him from out of sight above, I was struck by his agility as he moved gracefully through the water, never failing to make the catch even though the pieces of fish were small.  One time he actually caught the chunk of fish with his rear foot and nimbly lifted it to retrieve the fish with his mouth.  It was almost like watching a water ballet  as he dived and turned, and stood again to look up in anticipation of more food.  At one point he pushed off from the glass wall with his gigantic back foot, giving us a wonderful view of  it's underside,  much to the delight of children gathered along the glass to watch.  Clearly he was at home in his natural element and enjoying his time in the water.



I couldn't help but reflect on how this translates to our perception of people.  Sometimes they seem so ungainly as they move clumsily through life, and often times we fail to perceive their beauty.  Maybe part of this awkwardness is because our spirits must contend with the bodies we wear and find a way to negotiate life in places and situations that feel anything but comfortable.  It's unfortunate that we can't see each other as we are in the spirit realm, free and being what we were designed to be, in a place that will surely feel like home, just as water does for the polar bear.  


In the mean time, the next time I encounter someone who appears a bit ungainly, maybe I'll stop and take a second look, and see what grace and beauty might be found beneath the rough disguise.  

12 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your insightful observation.
    I tend to be 'clumsy as a bear' myself...

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    1. I am too, Romi, so I can relate to bears. In my mind I am much more graceful than I am in real life, so perhaps this is not my intended world. :-)

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  2. Love all bears, from a distance of course. The Polar Bears are spectacular. I'm with Romi C, wonderful insightful observation.

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    1. Bears are fascinating but also intimidating, Joe, knowing that they have the power and potential to kill us for food. But I love to observe them. I think I'm drawn to the polar bears because it is so hot here and those icy swimming pools look inviting. This one was so good at retrieving the pieces of fish, I could have watched it all day!

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  3. There's something about polar bears that I've always really liked. If I had to cross paths with a bear I'd hope that it would be a polar bear. I saw a documentary once where this guys dogs became friends with them. Wish I could remember the name of the documentary.

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    1. I agree, polar bears are special! I'd much prefer not to cross paths, since I would be the intruder, but I believe that all animals have spirits and most certainly it is possible to develop some kind of relationship, even if it is one of distant respect. I would love to see that documentary!

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  4. A great observation -- and a good lesson for all of us.
    This is why I love penguins. they wobble about on land, can't fly. but then they get in the water and the streak like bullets. so beautiful.
    I guess we all just need to find our element. :)

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    1. Exactly Rory... we will excel at whatever it is we were meant to do! :-)

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  5. What good shots you got of this bear. I always enjoyed watching the polar bears at the zoo too, unfortunately, the ones at our zoo died and now the Cleveland zoo doesn't have any. It's a shame.

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    1. The photo credits go to my daughter, Karen, I was to enthralled with observing to lift my phone camera. I really like these shots too, especially that last one that looks like he's going right for the little boy in the cap, but really there is a small piece of fish just below his paw :-)

      There is a similar exhibit at the Albquerque Zoo, at least there was last time I was there, and it included a large "iceberg". The bears used it as a ski slope, sliding down it into the water. It was obvious that they were having fun!

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  6. I dont think Ive ever heard " clumsy as a bear." I always think of them as amazingly agile despite there mass!

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    1. I agree Zoe. How often do we label something "clumsy" or "stupid" or "uglly" only because we haven't really taken a closer look. I would expect some small critter to be able to swim with grace, but here is this massive bear slipping through the water with such grace and ease. He put my swimming skills to shame, that's for sure! :-)

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