The Unexpected Wisdom of “Going On A Bearhunt”

You may not have thought of this goofy song since you were five years old, but maybe you should. For anyone who does not know the famous kids’ song, there are many versions, but they all go something like this

“We're goin' on a bear hunt

(We're goin' on a bear hunt)

We're going to catch a big one,

(We're going to catch a big one,)I'm not scared

(I'm not scared)

What a beautiful day!

(What a beautiful day!)



Long wavy grass.

We can't go over it.

We can't go under it.

Oh no!

We've got to go through it!

Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy!”

The verses echo the same refrain through various obstacles, a snowstorm, a cave, deep water, or whatever the person leading the song can come up with.

Recently a friend of mine was ending a relationship that had been on and off for several years. She was upset and needed someone to talk to. My life advice has always been pretty weird but even I was surprised when I immediately thought of “Going On a Bear Hunt”.

Yep, I am really about to tell you the life lessons I gleaned from a cheesy campfire song. Look, I told you it was weird.

See, my friend was a little frustrated with herself for feeling upset and confused over something she thought she had gotten over. All I could think to tell her was she could not go under, over or around the problem. She had to go through this strange and painful life event and feel whatever feelings it entailed.

The notion sounded obvious on the surface, but strangely relevant when I thought of all the times I had tried to avoid the suffering in my life, suffering that was often wrapped up with joy.

I could not avoid the big adjustment of moving away for college by going home every weekend. I could not avoid my tremendous fear of failure by putting off signing up for an internship. I could not subvert the crushing grief of losing a loved one by subconsciously burying my tears. I am not ashamed of these decisions but I know now that I was trying to avoid the natural growing pains of life.

Do not try and avoid the scary things you must walk through to catch your various bears. Whether you struggle with mounting deadlines at work and school or even grief, the only way out is through. Even when there is no way out, go through it. Confront whatever hurts or scares you and keep moving.

The future can be so terrifying. Sometimes the grass is too thick, the water is too deep, or the cave is too dark. You may not see or understand how you can make it but you keep going.

Try and be present in every process you encounter. Feel the grass, the water, the cave walls, the snow… because it’s not always about that bear.