Note this very scary picture above. Are you puzzled as to what is so frightening about an ordinary drinking fountain? On the surface, in the light nothing. When you can walk up, push the button and get water not even a child would have fear of such an object. Normally such things do not scare me as well. Aside from clowns, which I am not to crazy about, I generally do not fear much. Let me share a story with you where that wasn’t the case.
One day I was camping and while setting up my tent the park ranger came by to warn of some serious problems with black bears in the area. Now let me begin by saying bears are one of my favorite animals and even my nickname. So nothing that I would normally fear. The ranger, however, was telling us that the bears had been unusually aggressive that year especially when people had food or smelled like food. I took note and made sure I had plenty of firewood to keep that going all night as well. No sooner did I get my tent set up then the rain came in. So hard I ended up sleeping in my car and not said tent anyway. It rained through most of the afternoon as well as the evening. I had fallen asleep to the sound of rain on the roof of the car which is rather soothing. I woke up somewhere around midnight with a strong urge to return all of the water I had consumed to prepare for the hike that never occurred. the good news is that is was not raining anymore, the bad news was because this was some place remote and it was late at night, there was nothing open and the only bathrooms available were the not so clean camp bathrooms that were a short distance up a walking path that was not well lit at all. When nature calls, however, we must answer. So I grabbed my flashlight and half awake I began to walk. Upon cresting the hill I froze. There, at the top of the hill right in front of me I could see the silhouette of a black bear! I could see his muzzle, his ear sticking up. I recalled how I must smell like the campfire I had cooked over. I waited nervously and waited for the bear to make its’ move. I waited for what seemed like an eternity. No such move came. Finally I slowly had the courage to raise my flashlight. What I saw was amazing. The muzzle slowly turned into a bowl with a button on the side. That ear sticking up? The very top of….yes, you guessed it, a drinking fountain. Oh come on, look at the picture can’t you see it?
Even if you think I am nuts, which on occasion I may be the first to agree with, what is the purpose of our story here today? Other than camping with Neil can be a comical affair. This is the point. After hearing the ranger’s words of warning I had been on the lookout for bears. Every sound became a bear waiting to pounce. Even a drinking fountain almost caused me to not quite make it to the rest room. which I did, but it is really hard to walk and laugh out loud at yourself while you really have to go to the bathroom. Here is my point. At sometime in our life I think all of us had a cement bear. If we go into situations with a fear, or worse yet, some sort of prejudice, quite often we will trap ourselves into two different outcomes. One, it will be a dooming self-fulfilling prophecy or two, we may see things not as they exactly are. When you find yourself looking a bad situation in the eye, ask yourself is this really something to fear or hate or is it simply a cement bear? If you are not sure, shine your flashlight on the situation. learn as much as you can and quite often you may discover it is no scarier than a drinking fountain. Every time I see one of these now I laugh and recall how I let my fears and expectations turn something so harmless into one of north Americas largest predators. Do yourself a favor, be on the lookout for cement bears.