Something few humans realize is that teddy bears, those cuddlesome little packages of love and cuteness, have a depth of being far exceeding their diminutive size.
Of course no one would deny they are adorable and oh-so huggable. And it’s perhaps understandable why most people fail to see deeper than the delightful furry presence they want so much to hug and take home. But there’s much more to bears than most would imagine.
A Chance Discovery
On a leisurely stroll through the city’s bohemian quarter, you chance on a quaint gift shop tucked away between two towering tenements. The shop’s display window is overflowing with a hodgepodge of used books, retro postcards, vintage children’s toys, and a chaotic assortment of used clothing. Intrigued, you pause to examine the contents more closely.
The bell over the front door announces your entrance and a bespectacled gray-haired woman looks up from her vantage point behind the counter. She smiles, nods in acknowledgment, and returns to the needlework laid out before her.
You wander past heavily laden shelves that effectively hide the walls from view, and carefully pick your way through a complex obstacle course of floor displays. Touching this, picking up that, you slowly work your way deeper into the store. The place is so full of seemingly unrelated and random paraphernalia you wonder if anyone has ever made a serious attempt to organize things. Would it be even possible in one lifetime to find the correct category for each and every object?
You shake your head, push on past two robed mannequin figures sporting Egyptian headgear, and sidestep a table covered with tall jars filled with feathers. A small hand printed sign informs you these are ideal “Gifts”. Even in your wildest imaginings you doubt you could conjure up an occasion that would merit such a gift.
The more you browse the more you feel you’ve stumbled into a forgotten early twentieth century museum, and for a brief moment you wonder at the extent of the shop’s history and story. Pausing beside a jumbled collection of period costumes, dresses, gowns, tall hats, and long gloves, you find yourself revising your previous estimation. An early nineteenth century museum.
When your senses finally reach the point of total saturation and you turn back towards the front door, your gaze skates across the still unexplored shelves lining the far back wall. Something catches your eye and you stop mid turn.
A whole gaggle of teddy bears stretch out along a single shelf.
Collectibles? You move closer.
While of various sizes, shapes, and weights, none of the teddies measures more than half an arm’s length in height. Most are teddy adults, but you do see two bear cubs snuggling safely in the middle. And closer examination confirms that they are not your common, rough-and-ready stuffed bears. These are nothing less than splendid examples of handcrafted masterpieces.
And while each bears’ attire might have been lifted directly from an Edwardian picture book, the incongruent addition of long, patchwork scarves serves to maintain each bear as a unique and recognizable character. Their combined presence succeeds in being both quaint and sophisticated, a rare accomplishment even in high fashion.
The Beginnings of a Relationship
But it’s their indefinable core presence that captivates you the most.
Lounging on that shelf as if they owned the world, they still manage to exude an air of peaceful relaxation. Nestled cozily between a towering stack of leather bound books on one side and a pyramid of chocolate truffle boxes on the other, they gaze out over the cluttered room and seem content to simply be in each other’s company. Without any obvious effort or planning, they succeed in creating an enviable tableau of serene, companionable silence.
You’ve been staring at them steadily now for a good three minutes and through all that time they have steadfastly returned your gaze.
The Mystery Deepens
Now, a question or two.
If that was really you in that cluttered old shop, would you now turn away from the bears and head for the door, finished with your little diversion? It is, after all, just a quaint old shop full of quaint old stuff that happens to include a few vintage bears.
Or would you find it strangely difficult to leave? Would you feel a growing need to spend more time with these self-possessed yet mysterious bears, more time to understand their ways?
So you stay.
Good. Now to understand bears you need to watch them in the same manner that they pay attention to you. Be quiet, be still, and gently attend. An excellent way to begin is to observe their eyes. Given enough time you just might catch a fleeting glimmer. And if you’re especially lucky, perhaps even a cascade of twinkles.
Ah, ha, you saw them, too! Those twinkles are nothing less than living proof of the weighty activity taking place inside those furry noggins.
Read on to find out just how rich and multifaceted the inner life of a teddy bear really is.
Teddy bear philosophy is ancient. Its roots stem from the original cosmic dance in which Fur and Non-fur existed in perfect balance. While the world we humans and bears now occupy is obviously in constant flux and often turmoil, bears see depths we humans often miss. They know, deep in their hearts, there is a hidden energy at work moving everything towards a return to the perfect Fur/Non-fur balance.
This is how bears see the world. This is how bears live. And this is how bears help people just like you and me.
So what does take place inside a bear’s head? When they sit and gaze and think about the world, in what directions do their bear thoughts flow?
Yes, it’s true, they do think a lot about chocolate cake. And strawberry tarts. And clotted cream and jam on freshly baked scones. It’s no secret that food in all its most delectable forms flavors many of their conscious thoughts. It’s simply a bear’s way.
Unfortunately this is where many humans stumble and make the mistake of dismissing bear thoughts as simple-minded food fantasies. Not so. Woven throughout every bear’s consciousness is an awareness and sensibility that is deep, sensitive, and infinitely compassionate.
A Healing Gift
When you see a teddy bear that touches your heart, that makes you want to rush to him and gather him in your arms, what is truly happening? And I know you’ve all experienced such an event, maybe even many. You have, haven’t you?
Well, is it merely a passing whim, a fleeting need to feel warm, soft fur against your skin?
Or is it the bear spoke to you, if not in words, then in feelings? That’s what they do, you know. Their extreme sensitivity to another being’s anguish prompts them to reach out and do their best to heal the imbalance.
The Cosmic Dance
From the bear’s view the process is instinctive, natural, and spontaneous. From the recipient’s perspective, it is extraordinarily powerful and sometimes overwhelming.
In such a healing interaction, the ancient cosmic dance of Non-fur & Fur unfolds something like this:
- Non-fur to Fur: Across the room you glimpse a teddy bear of great charm and your heart unexpectedly flutters. You feel inexplicably drawn to the bear, and you take a step towards him. Almost immediately you falter and stop, suddenly overwhelmed with doubts. “What on earth am I doing?” you silently cry. No answer. And in that moment you realize you’re caught in the dreaded limbo of indecision. Unable to move, you glance longingly at the bear while wondering if perhaps you’ve gone slightly mad.
- Fur to Non-fur: The bear sees and feels you in your completeness. All your joys, pains, wants, and despairs, they’re all visible to the bear. He gently reaches out across the room to you, knowing you need his help.
- Non-fur to Fur: Something warm and comforting caresses your heart, and in an instant all indecision vanishes. In five steps you are across the room and the bear is in your arms. And as soon as that soft, silky fur touches your skin, you’re transported to another reality. You clutch the bear dearly to your heart and never want to let him go.
- Fur to Non-fur: This is a teddy bear’s calling, and he gently enfolds you in an ever deepening nimbus of healing love.
Now tell me, if in a time of great personal crisis you are given the choice of the following comforts, which one would you choose? Ice cream, the movies, all the pizza you could eat at a sitting, or bear love?
I believe there are times when a bear is all you need.