In Talking With a Polar Bear…

I’ve been doing some serious soul-searching.

The Wolf of Main Street-photograph by David Yarrow
I’ve never been a trusting sort, and Tuesday reminded me yet again that people are not to be trusted. That said, I no longer have it in me to fight. If you do, more power to you. Me, I’m done.

Instead I’m going to enjoy my days. After all, with the nuclear codes in the hands of someone so dangerous and unstable, who knows how many days we have left? And, you know, I’m OK with that too. I’ve said for years that humans are an invasive species with no known predators who are sapping the Earth’s resources dry. It would be poetic justice if we were responsible for our own demise.

So I have resolved to smile more. Be more polite. I’m going to flirt with men… and maybe women. I’ve always wondered. I’m going to dance, and do yoga, and walk. I’m going to try new things.

And I’m going to tell you about those experiences.

Most days on my lunch break I walk through downtown Nashville. It gets me out of the office and gives me a chance to do some serious people-watching while getting some exercise. Invariably I end up walking by Tinney Contemporary, whose current exhibition is David Yarrow‘s Wild Encounters photography.

The first time I saw Hello, I was mezmerized. 

Hello- photograph by David Yarrow. If you look in the bear’s eyes, you can see the silhouette of Yarrow taking the photo. 
In the room are photos of animals in the wild, including zebras and a lion. As I look at the photos my head fills with thoughts about climate change, the melting of the polar icecap, endangered species, trophy hunting, and on and on and on.

But this polar bear ain’t having it. He says to me, “Hey! I’m not a concept! I am alive! I am a living being. Look at me!”

And just like that, through a photograph, I connect with a polar bear.

Now each day I walk by Tinney to commune with this bear and his companions.

Gladiator-photograph by David Yarrow
Then Tuesday happened, and now when I walk by the gallery, I cry.

I don’t feel sorry for us. We the people either voted for this guy, threw away our vote on someone we knew couldn’t be elected, or didn’t bother to vote at all, and now we will pay the consequences.

But so will this polar bear. If our president-elect’s sons, unrepentant trophy hunters of wild animals, don’t kill the bear, then their climate-change denying father will ensure his demise through rolling back of regulations. Soon photographs may be all that we have left.

Now the bear asks me, “what have you done?” Through my tears I tell the bear I’m sorry while passers-by head to lunch dates or tourist attractions. I do so because I have to. He calls to me.

It’s my penance for allowing this to happen. 

23 thoughts on “In Talking With a Polar Bear…

  1. love the photos… it’s great to see animals in their natural habitat and not just behind bars…but maybe if we are careless we only will see them behind bars when their natural habitat is destroyed… :o(

  2. God will always have a remnant–and not those who claim to own Him and tell Him what He thinks like the ones who march the streets with hate but those of us who are truly about His business in serving others–and His creatures like yourself. Have patience. Here is why I tell those who would march in protest of this election to “go high” rather than imitate the “deplorables” who went out to buy guns in expectation of race riots because a Black man was elected in 2008. Continue to demonstrate respect for the office of president even though they did not for our outgoing president. Continue to pray and have patience. This man will say or do something that will have him removed from office. He may even step down on his own because he has that kind of “shiny bauble” attention span. Meanwhile, I’m also praying that as the brown side of my family and I walk and drive down the streets–and we do not live in a horrible ghetto as he thinks we all do–that I am not stopped and frisked because of my color in the name of “law and order.”

  3. Oh Jen you did not allow all this to happen. Humanity in its ignorance & arrogance has messed up the planet. They have forgotten the lessons of respect & honor. Society is breaking down….little by little.
    What you wrote about the Election is so true. I read in a UK paper only 54% of USA population voted. That is a telling number & so very sad….
    And now we have to hope & pray….well, that no one pushes “THAT” button…..
    Live each day well; be kind to yourself & others; care for your patch of this old world & know you are NOT alone in your feelings.
    (((hugs))) & ❤ Love ❤ Sherri-Ellen

    1. Polar bears do not categorize humans by those who vote way versus another. They are losing their hunting grounds and a lack of food is causing starvation. We are all one here. We are each in some way accountable.

  4. I think it’s when we cannot summon tears any longer that we can genuinely claim to have given up hope. Hope should not be confused with “optimism.” I imagine that you’ve run out of the latter but have a heart-full of the former: Feel free to give up ON hope, just don’t give up hope–I don’t want to be your collateral damage..

      1. When I was 16 years old, the Sunday Times interviewed 20-some notables on how they would define the word “grace.” Almost 50 years later, one single reply has become so etched in my soul that I know–KNOW–I will care tomorrow even if I don’t care today:

        “Grace is an acceptance of the way things are.”

        This is not a passive position. In fact, it screams the opposite. It’s about the acceptance. Once you’ve got the acceptance down, there is peace enough to see the point in alleviating the exigent suffering of the other. Without the peace, I am angry. No peace, and I don’t care about not caring. No peace and I want to take the lives of those who take lives. Even if I could muster a caustic, cynical, “Let me help,” this urge to fight instead of accept leaves me blind: I can’t figure out HOW to help.

        I have Faith that you will be unable to give up Hope and that’s because you write about the desperate need for Charity. And I, for one, thank you for that.

  5. I stopped trusting people years ago. That’s why I want to get another dog so badly. My most recent canine companion understood me better than anyone else. He also never had an attitude, even as his health failed. Don’t flirt with women; they’ll think you’re up to something. If you flirt with men, they may actually appreciate it. Better yet, don’t flirt with anyone. People are too unpredictable.

  6. You’re right about people who threw their vote away. Michael Moore said that in Michigan 11,000 people voted, 90 thousand are registered to vote. We could have a long discussion about what happened in the Rust Belt. One way or the other it is concerning about what this new administration..

  7. Whether you approve of the electoral college outcome, only 57% of all voters voted. That’s shameful in a democracy/republic. People all over the world would have given anything to have the opportunity. By giving up, it contributes to more of the same. In 14 states, more votes were cast for the senate candidates than for either presidential candidate. This election seems to beg for elector involvement into the process more than ever. Without holding all officials accountable, this sort of outcome/process will be the norm. While neither candidate was particularly well received, it is incumbent on involvement into the process, i.e. primary process, and re-setting the DNC and RNC procedures to offer candidates that we can actually and enthusiastically get behind to lead the entire country.

    1. I subscribe to the. Eluded in that not voting is voting as well. Some is voter suppression, to be sure. A friend posted on Facebook that she was denied the right to vote because he was told she was not registered when she was. This is a woman working on her doctoral dissertation. But some of it is apathy and disinterest.

  8. Some of us did all the right things — you know, voted and for the right person — and lost anyway. I have lost before and will, if I live long enough, lose again. This may not be as bad as we dread it will be. I’m thinking it will be no worse than the previous GOP regimes — which granted, were quite bad enough, but not so bad that we all have to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid. I wish I was as optimistic about the earth’s survival as I am about my own.

    1. The problem I see is that we are more divided than ever, and with one party in charge it’s going to be one hell of a fight. But we know fighting does not solve anything.

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