In the marvelous children’s book, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” a dad and his four young children decide to track a bear. They set off enthusiastically, saying, “We’re going to catch a big one! We’re not scared.”
They persevere admirably, even when they meet a series of daunting obstacles. At each new challenge, they stop and gaze at it for a moment and then say, “We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!” And so they do, traversing a deep, cold river; a big, dark forest; a swirling, whirling snowstorm, and even a narrow, gloomy cave.
I won’t spoil the ending, and anyway, it’s this middle bit I’m inspired by right now.
As I prepared to get in the chair for my second root canal treatment this week (because the first one led to a nasty infection), this book popped into my head. I thought it would be a great message for anyone having to go to the endodontist’s office and might buy a copy for my next appointment in two weeks. I’ll leave it in the waiting area, to bolster the courage of fellow patients.
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, several of my loved ones have been slogging through their own deep, cold rivers lately. Thankfully, most are getting a bit of relief. My dad is out of the hospital and beginning to get on top of the diabetes he suddenly acquired when the chemo he’s on caused his pancreas to stop functioning. My daughter and her boyfriend are beginning to emerge from the overwhelming shock and grief of losing one of their best friends. Jane is beginning to carve out bucket-filling time for herself, away from the constant demands of several draining family members.
Time helps many of our challenges fade, as do antibiotics, insulin, and other outside-in treatments. But there are some ways we can help get through the muck ourselves. Here are a few inspired by the bear hunting family.
Go through it with good people
Travel with people you love, and even, metaphorically speaking, let someone carry you sometimes, like the baby who rides through the book on his dad’s shoulders. Many of us are used to coping on our own, but love can lighten your load. I received so many kind messages from you guys last week, and they truly made me feel better. Not my actual tooth, but the rest of me. 🥰
Stop and enjoy the view
Enjoy the parts of the journey that aren’t hard. There is dappled light in even the thickest forest, sunshine glinting off the surface of the deep rivers.
Rest when you can
The Bear Hunt family collapses on the bed at the end of their adventure, swearing, “We’re never going on a bear hunt again!” But something will come up, and it will be easier to go through if they—and we—are rested.
One more thing you could do is acknowledge that life is sometimes just hard, and give yourself credit for doing your best to get through it. Take a deep breath and say to yourself, “This is not easy, but I’m trying.” Then go ahead and collapse on the bed.