Once upon a time, there was a bear. The bear lived beside a beautiful forest, and all through the summer, he enjoyed walking through the forest, climbing trees, and chasing squirrels. Then when it got a little too warm, the bear would cool down by heading down to the lake and swimming for a while. When the bear got hungry he went fishing and caught salmon. The salmon in the lake was just perfect. It felt good to be a bear.
As August changed into September, the bear noticed that the mornings and evenings began to get a little cooler. And as September changed into October, the bear realized that it was beginning to get a little cold, and as you know, bears don’t really like the cold – unless they are polar bears, and this bear was most definitely not a polar bear. He was more the prototypical kind of bear – a real bear is how he liked to think of himself. So of course, when it got cold, the bear started thinking about the long sleep of the winter. And as October progressed, the colours of the leaves changed from green to reds and yellows, to browns and beautiful golds, and the bear decided that it was time to get his bed ready for the winter.
So he found himself a nice comfortable warn and dry cave in the forest and he started to gather branches and leaves to make himself a comfortable bed. He tried out his bed, and thought to himself, “no, not quite comfortable enough,” because bears like to be really comfortable when they sleep. So he gathered more leaves and piled them up to create a perfect mattress and pillow. And it was comfortable that when the bear laid down his head, he immediately fell into a deep deep sleep.
And when he awoke, something wasn’t right. It was still cold. It certainly wasn’t Spring, and instead of the sweet sounds of the birds singing in the Spring, he heard strange mechanical noises. He got up and still quite bleery-eyed, he wandered out of his game. What a surprise! There right in front of him where the forest should be were a line of machines and men working at the machines. That was the source of the awful noises. For the bear had woken in the middle of a factory.
Suddenly, a big man came up to the bear and grabbed him by the shoulder.
“Why aren’t you working?” said the man.
The bear was very shocked and replied a bit hesitantly, “well … because I’m a bear.”
The man asked again, “don’t be silly – why are you not working?”
“Because I’m a bear”, said the bear.
The man said: “No, you’re not. You are not a bear. You are just a silly man who needs to shave and take off that fur coat.”
“No really! I am a bear,” said the bear.
The big man eventually decided that the bear was crazy and dragged him off to the company doctor.
The company doctor said, “you’re not a bear – you are just a silly man who needs to shave and take off your fur coat.”
When the bear kept insisting that he was a bear, the doctor said, “OK, I am going to prove to you that you are not a bear.”
The doctor drove the bear in his big fancy car to the zoo where five bears were sitting in a cage.
The doctor turned to the bears in the cage and said, “Is this man a bear?”
All the bears in the cage started to laugh and one said, “Of course not! If he were a bear, he would be in the cage with us!”
However, the bear was still not convinced.
So the doctor took the bear to the circus where there were a troupe of performing bears who juggled and rode bicycles.
“Is this man a bear?”, asked the doctor to the bears.
One of the bears in the circus who was juggling almost fell off his unicycle because he was laughing so much.
“Of course not! If he were a bear, he would be in the circus with us, juggling and riding a bicycle!”
When the bear heard this, he felt very very sad because he thought “oh no, I am not a bear – I am just a silly man who needs a shave and to take off his fur coat.”
The bear continued to be very sad, but started going to work every day in the factory.
Every day, he trudged to the factory and became used to the long boring work at the factory. He became tired and stressed. And worst of all, he really began to forget that he was a bear. Trudging to the factory every day, he began to think that he had been working in the factory for ever and that he was foolish for thinking that he could be anything other than a factory worker.
And the bear continued to work at that factory for a long time. Every day he went into the factory and he worked and he eventually got used to the factory work, although he didn’t really like it very much. He got very busy and stressed. Every night, he was so tired.
He worked there for almost a whole year and then one day he noticed that the summer was coming to an end and that the evenings and mornings were getting cooler.
And as August changed into September, it began to get colder and by October the leaves on the trees had begun to change colour.
Still every day, he trudged along into work. And then one day, as he walked, in front of him a leaf floated down from a tree way up above his head. It floated down in front of his face. The bear put out his hand and caught the leaf and he looked at it in surprise.
It was beautiful – red and yellow and brown and gold. He looked at it and thought, “Winter is coming, soon it will be cold. I want to go to my cave and sleep.”
But then he shook his head and he said, “no, that’s not right. I’m not a bear. I’m just a silly man who needs to shave and take off his fur coat.”
And his head went down again and he walked on. He continued trudging on towards the factory.
And then two leaves fluttered down in front of his face from a place far up above his head. To his surprise, the two leaves fell perfectly into his two paws as if his paws had been waiting for the leaves all the time.
He looked at the leaves and they were so pretty – yellow and brown and red and gold, all mixed together in a beautiful mosaic of patterns. He caught the leaves and looked at the leaves and he suddenly remembered! He remembered everything! He remembered – “you really are a bear! That’s right, you really are a bear!”
And he looked at the factory in front of him and he said to himself, “Oh no – that’s not for me” and he turned away from that path and started walking and then running down a different path. And the path led deep into the forest, far from the factory.
There he found a cave and made a bed and lay down to sleep and he fell into a deep deep beautiful sleep.