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Word From The North

Life Is Too Short For Regret

This vacuum is an opportunity

Van Allen Bear

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Greetings, dearest readers.

As you all know, life has it’s trials in which we are subject to all sorts of toil. Some things in life that have been done at times in which we were unaware, uncertain, or confused may cause regret. There are memories or actions that fall on the quieter side of our minds, which are shuffled away deep into the files. They come to the forefront when we remember that ache that we should have done something or said something, and that fear of, “it’s too late.” Well, this is something natural and quite helpful.

When you have these regrets, it would be best to understand their origins. Through introspection and careful, meaningful thought one may come to understand that God uses regret to push and pull us, much like he uses jealousy. Jealousy can be a natural emotion; however you respond to that emotion is what makes you see past the knee-jerk reaction it may cause. Though we might not know it at the time, we may have varying regrets in our pasts which we can use as fuel and inspiration to take steps now to prevent a ‘missed appointment.’ In many of your cases, those regrets may be a calling to adjust your expectations. In some other cases, including many of my own, regretting inaction in the past leads to inaction in the present.

Make that long put-off call, send that letter, hug that person, fix that bridge, burn those pictures, push that stone back up the mountain.

We cannot let the past define us. No matter how much it hurts, will you truly allow yourself to be defined by that?

Looking forward, a vacuum is an opportunity. People around you may be spiraling, however, everything is getting better for those who are willing to go out and get it. Life is assuredly too short to be twiddling our thumbs and commiserating, when all it takes to shed that weight from your shoulders is to give it away to God, no matter how heavy.

Dear readers I’m not exactly saying let loose the steering wheel, but simply saying that you shouldn’t be alone on your path. I cannot think of a better time in life to act in full passion than these times, the times of the Beartarians.

Word From The North

Wolves in the Dark

An agreement, of sorts.

Van Allen Bear

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Dear readers, gather round extra close for this tale. This tale was lived-out by myself and many other young men at the time in which it took place, the tale of the wolves in the dark. One evening while canoeing a fleet of manned canoes (some were fastened with make-shift sails), gray wolves were seen along the banks of the Yukon River. Following us paddlers, they were spotted running along the treeline the same direction as our fleet. Briefly afterwards, they disappeared into the brush, never to be seen again.

Hours later we beached and made camp. Campfires and stories–all in a summer night’s close! That part of the world hardly gets dark during the summer, mind you, only for a few hours in the deep of the morning. That’s when the shadows are afforded their daily dance. After a good ‘marking of the territory’ we bedded down for rest.

The inevitability of the event was thrilling. Knowing they were coming for us and eventually having to get off the water and set up camp. We weren’t frightened: we knew they were going to come at one time or another, so we had been prepared. With the adults on the perimeter we clustered our tents in a circle, pocket knives were kept by us as we slept, kept food isolated in sealed containers, and tented-up in pairs.

Guard the gravy

They didn’t get into anything, they didn’t attack anyone, and they didn’t make any noise. Not a single huff or puff, not a sniff nor a growl. However, we knew that they had undoubtedly been around all of the dark hours in the morning, for there were countless wolf tracks going everywhere through camp between the tents, the gear, and the boats.

It is good practice for team building, and good to realize from barely the beginning of my teenage years the inevitability of danger and how to mitigate it. Especially since we were canoeing hundreds of miles with only what was in our boats: packed food, oars, tents, and a few misc items.

This was the understanding that was struck between us and the wolves: they won’t bother us if we don’t bother them nor tempt them. As hungry as a pack of wolves may be, if you prepare properly by not leaving out food or stragglers, they will begrudgingly leave you be. This agreement can be found between you and many other types of adversaries in life: if you are prepared and stand your ground, they will be far less inclined to target you or your group. The wilderness is not a theme park, one must continue to strike agreements with the creatures of the woods, the waters, and the air. Fall short on your end of the bargain, well, let’s just keep up our end of the bargain shall we?

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Satire

Lemons Are One Thing, But Limes?

What on earth do we do with limes?

Van Allen Bear

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Next time someone tells you “oh yeah man listen I hate to break it to ya, but all I got for ya are these lemons here see”–take em and run! Could you imagine how worse-off you would be if you had a handful of limes? I mean, come on, before you say, “hey woah man, it’s all good we can make limeade”–No… Listen guy, I ain’t buyin’ it and nobody I’ve ever known drinks something as silly as limeade. 

Lemons are one thing, but limes? 

Any sensible person, any time in history or future

When life gives us lemons, we can make lemonade and maybe we can get ourselves into a lemonade stand. With that lemonade stand we can get ourselves into the market and start making some seed money for, oh I don’t know, a new *bike* or a bigger hat or even pay your CPA $50 for an LLC to begin creating cargo airships out of scrap aluminum… but, limes? We can even collect them and digitally throw them at a bear for hours of entertainment, but limes?

The difference is beyond measure

Come on, what on earth can we do with a lime? Why is everyone so unenthusiastic about the lemons they might receive from life when they should be most worried about the limes lurking in the shade? Literally lurking in the shade! I just don’t get it.

Why had no one told us about the limes? I bought one as a joke at the supermarket once when I was a young man. What a complete and utter waste of money– it sat in my refrigerator for about one-and-a-half-years before I finally threw it away and bought another one. I figured that this was a mercy purchase, because someone, somewhere actually picked a lime and tried to sell it. I mean, come on that’s hilarious to even think someone would purposefully purchase a lime. Lemons all day, man, that makes sense, but limes? Come on. Don’t be kidding yourself. Don’t be kidding me, do I look like a fool? Gimme a handful of lemons and I’m on the dark side of the moon bartering tree seeds to the Chineses in 6 months. But if you really want to insult someone, go out of your way to purchase them a lime. What a disaster that would cause, oh good Heavens. 

Can you imagine, dear readers, someone who may have the gall to comfort you in a time of distraught with the age-old, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I wish someone would say, “alright, hold on. You and I both know lemons are rather acidic, however they have nominal market value when coupled with sugar granules and liquid ice. I know that seems like a little bit, but with fractional transactions and investing over 66% of our profit margins into solar battery research, I could both have a new set of rollerblades AND a new sunroof for my prius. With limes… not so much, guy, lime fruits don’t even form a monophyletic group.”

It’s alright, I’m sure lemons fall short in utility, but limes? Come on, man. Not a chance.

Come on…

Lemons are made out to be the bad-guy here, and I don’t see why. I’m just trying to figure this out. They are used in potpourri, as ornaments, mixed into cocktails (haram), zest in cakes, yellow dyes, added to picnic water, pies, puddings, baked bars, squeezed over fried catfish, lemonade, origami, crypto currency, pigment for painting porches, donkey food, soaps, hotel lotions, earrings, tree ornaments… all kinds of things. Limes… sorry yeah drawing a blank. When life gives you lemons, don’t worry about it, just be glad they weren’t limes.

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Word From The North

In the Tunnel

Finding peace in the storm

Van Allen Bear

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snow tunnel

Let us all gather around the fire for this one dear readers, I shall tell you a recent tale. 

Being from the Great North, the people I grew up with survived many winters. We made all sorts of snow shelters, lakeside igloos, trench pits, quinzes, and on occasion my siblings and I would take mattresses out onto the driveway and watch the aurora borealis in the dead of winter. The wolves and I have an agreement: they do not bother me as I do not bother them. We know cold and we know snow, as one can imagine. 

Photographs have surfaced of my eldest kin standing with berms high overhead for the record breaking snow of around 12 feet in south-central Alaska. The “unending snow,” as it was called, drifted all year.

There is something special about the first snow of the year and that is what fell upon me during my travels south this fall season–the first snow of the Yukon.

The hour was late and the sun had long been gone. The dark green forests along the river brought strong wafts of pine as the wind picked up, carrying them south-east along the surface of the frigid waters. There were small flecks of snowdust coming down already, and I had to keep on trucking. As you see, dear readers, I was racing not only the winter but the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They had allowed me 24 hours to leave the Yukon territory as per agreement of my in-transit visa, and therefore I had no choice but to press on through the storms. It turned from dust to thick flakes as 200 miles of blizzard went on to what seemed like forever. Perilous winds and steep inclines, cliffs and frost heaves, ice and trenches. My vision was limited to only 50 feet before me. The entire road was covered and the snow was piling higher. There was an immense calm that comes with the snow, as I was driving no faster than 40 miles an hour. 

Sound hardly travels through a blizzard, and the silence was deafening. I was listening to a 25 hour video series about the origins of Europe through my cell phone, until something inside me turned it off to listen to the road for a little while. Glued to the seat, I was staring down at the hypnotic snow arcing across my windshield, bright and yellow from my headlights. The scene resembled a hundreds-of-miles long tunnel where I was slowly gliding through. No road noise, no engine noise, no music. No audio to be found, as though in a soundbooth. There were fewer and fewer cars driving around me even though it was merely 6 or 7 in the afternoon. Soon I was the only one driving south, and the northbound traffic thinned to only one or two semi-trucks passing me northbound every 20 minutes or so.

Was I the only one brave enough to navigate the storm? Or was I the only one dense enough to try?

Man, alone in the first Yukon blizzard of 2020

I was grateful for these trucks, as they were leaving large ruts behind for me to drive in for there were no tire tracks on my side of the road. Almost as soon as their tracks were covered by the pounding snow, they were blazed again by another tractor-trailer heading north.There was no sense of ‘correct lanes’ as the entire road was white and limited to such a tight visual, as though wandering in a cavern equipped only with an oil lantern.

Times like these are cherished, for they make your options few in a world filled with options tugging you off course. ‘Go’ or ‘stay’, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in a world of gray areas and maybes. “Do I stay and hope the road clearing crews come in the morning, or do I keep inertia until the task is done?” Circumstance rendered it most appropriate to keep on. Once committed, it’s easy to keep with it, and I am glad that I did.

When I reached beyond the checkpoint on just the edge of British Columbia, I pulled off the road and slept till morning in my driver’s seat only to wake up to well-formed icicles and a plot of snow burying my car under a blue sky. That was a proud sleep, and much deserved. It’s quite funny to note that when nature takes its turn, rules of the road are off the table and you’re on your own.

We can make systems and manage them well, until the first metaphorical snow. Be prepared to face hardships and unknowns in the coming ‘winters’ of our lives, as there is much out of our control aside from how we handle ourselves. Sliding off a ledge from driving carelessly fast? Waiting under the snows for someone else to pull you out? Perhaps driving through it by faith?

Take care in your preparations, for in many ways, the snow is already here.

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