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I mean it feels like every time I meet someone new, our entire interaction is reduced to some prosaic variation of “whoa bear”. They treat me like I’m a savage animal that has nothing to offer beyond a threat. No heart, no mind, no feelings, just claws and teeth and hunger. 

I mean I get it to a certain extent, I really do, people can’t help the way they’ve been conditioned, and if I’m being honest there’s a small part of me that does want to rip off a limb and gnaw on it, but I’ve read Proust, you know? Did I tell you that? Four and a half years it’s taken me, but I finally finished Time Regained. That’s the seventh volume. And it’s not like I read a translation, I put in the work. I only picked up a bit of French during my time in Quebec, but I really did work hard to do it justice and read it in its original form. It was masterful. It really changed me. Memory, art, time, love – it changed everything really.

So when I meet people in the forest it’s really hurtful that they never see that part of me. I mean never, ever. No Paul, I’m not being hyperbolic. No exaggeration, it’s always just fear and “whoa bear” repeated over and over again followed by them backing slowly away. I think the media has a lot to do with it, and the way my species is sensationalized in movies certainly doesn’t help. We’ve talked about that before but some of this stuff I just can’t let go.  It upsets me a lot. 

I’ve even written letters to some of the Hollywood types but it’s not like they care. Take a guy like Di Caprio who’s supposed to be this great advocate of nature, and then he finally gets his Oscar by getting attacked by a bear. It’s all so phony. I mean the letters probably don’t even make it to them. Some intern opens it up, glances at it, sees I’m just some bear, and throws it in the waste bin because I’m not in a demo that advertisers care about, you know? It’s all numbers now. I wish some of these guys would read Proust. Maybe it’d change things. 

I went for drinks at a director’s home once, did I tell you that? I don’t want to name drop but let’s just say it’s a name you’d know. He had a first edition collection Proust in his library, prominently displayed in the living room. I mean bam, it was front and centre, he wanted people to notice, there’s no doubting it. I was overjoyed at first. I asked him how he felt about the work and he said he hadn’t read them yet, he was meaning to get to them…. and that’s what it’s all about right? Putting them in your library to impress, but not actually ever reading them. It’s just where we’re at with everything I guess…

What? No, I don’t think that I’m too guarded. I want to let people in, I really do. I don’t think that’s a fair criticism at all. I mean just last week there was a party in bush camp a couple of hills over and I dropped by to see what was going on. I was super nervous, but I’ve been really working on overcoming my anxiety like we talked about and I said to myself “You know what, tonight you’re going to walk into that room and just smile at anybody who looks at you. Just smile at them. Put yourself out there and good things will happen.” Well, you know what, I did just that, I walked right through the front mess tent flap and smiled at the entire room. No holds barred, no self-consciousness, didn’t care how white my teeth were or if I had any berry seeds somewhere. I poured myself into that smile. 

Yeah, I know, I was proud of myself too, but it was a disaster. No Paul, I’m not exaggerating, it was a disaster. People started screaming and shrieking and everyone ran out the back. Then one guy grabbed a rifle and they started talking about whether they needed to destroy me or not. Can you believe that? That’s what I get for putting myself out there, people literally talking about destroying me. So no Paul, I’m not guarded, I do put myself out there, I’m not imagining that people don’t like me and don’t want to give me a chance, they actually don’t.  That’s just the truth, and I think I’m learning to be okay with that.  But it’s still hard you know? 

What’s that? Wow time’s up already, okay, thanks Paul, but are you sure you can’t fit me in next week some time? I really think these sessions are helping. I’m still really sorry about your cat, it hadn’t been a good session – not your fault, it’s just where I was at that day – and the cat was just sitting there when I walked out into reception you know? Just instinct, but I’m really getting better. I’m glad to hear you have a new cat. I mean I agree it’s probably best to keep it at home, just to be safe. 

Thanks Paul, okay then, yup buh-bye, see you in two weeks.

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