The Bear Who Let It Alone – James Thurber

In the woods of the Far West there once lived a brown bear who could take it or let it alone. He would go into a bar where they sold mead, a fermented drink made of honey, and he would have just two drinks. Then he would put some money on the bar and say, “See what the bears in the back room will have,” and he would go home. But finally he took to drinking by himself most of the day.

He would reel home at night, kick over the umbrella stand, knock down the bridge lamps, and ram his elbows through the windows. Then he would collapse on the floor and lie there until he went to sleep. His wife was greatly distressed and his children were very frightened.

At length the bear saw the error of his ways and began to reform. In the end he became a famous teetotaler and a persistent temperance lecturer. He would tell everybody that came to his house about the awful effects of drink, and he would boast about how strong and well he had become since he gave up touching the stuff. To demonstrate this, he would stand on his head and on his hands and he would turn cartwheels in the house, kicking over the umbrella stand, knocking down the bridge lamps, and ramming his elbows through the windows.

Then he would lie down on the floor, tired by his healthful exercise, and go to sleep. His wife was greatly distressed and his children were very frightened.

—— My dad showed me this little story one day and I find it a nice reminder to avoid the extremes that are forced upon us everyday. Whether its working out for hours on end to have the 6 pack you’ve always dreamed of, or eating only locally grown, organically fed, paleo friendly, uber healthy fancy food because you will feel so much better if you do, it’s two extremes that create unrealistic expectations. Yes, eating healthy and exercising regularly are important, but we are human and should be allowed to enjoy ourselves without feeling guilty. Go to the gym for an hour, have that glass of wine, but maybe don’t live at the gym or drink the whole bottle of wine. We all have our own happy medium of healthy, and just because mine doesn’t include 150lbs dead-lifts or a strictly organic diet, doesn’t mean its not healthy, its just realistic for my lifestyle.

So next time the internet tells you to join the raw food movement, or guilts you into going to the gym, just think of the bear who let it alone and stick with your happy medium. Also, try not to knock over any umbrella stands in the process.