Sometimes I only know who I am by the way I react to something.

This week VOD (my Voice of Doom)was shouting about the future: doing his best to convince me that some paths involving the heart are just too risky, and will end in disaster. I know VOD only wants to save me from possible pain, but in doing so he tries to persuade that to remain stuck in fear is the best plan.

In moments when VOD starts up, I have two choices: wallow and allow him to get louder, or take note of his wish to protect me, accept my fears and let go for a while. Eventually, by escaping from myself, I get some perspective.

On Wednesday, for my needed change of scene and having been inspired to take my fears for a beautiful walk by reading this post at Baba Yaga’s Place, I chose bear watching.

IMGP3264 Me standing in Plaza San Martin inside a circle of painted bears came to pass because I’d seen them from the 152 bus, weeks ago, on the way home from Migraciónes. I had no idea why they were there, or what they were, or whether they’d still be there at all, but something made me go back and look for them. I’m glad I didn’t research them first. If I’d known their story, well, it wouldn’t have been the same. And I’m not going to explain what they’re about because maybe you’ll prefer an element of discovery too. Need to know types can do their homework here.

Have you seen the bears? How did they affect you? That’s what I’m interested in. Your reaction. You.

Since I’m asking you to share with me, here’s is what I found in the circle… and I believe I found it because of who I am, or at least because of who I was on Wednesday at about 3pm.

Wow! One bear, one country! Desire to give every bear equal time. Decision to start just where I found myself and to walk the circle twice: once to explore and get to UK bear and once to reflect. A sudden urge to run to UK bear. Annoyance that UK bear looked a bit strange: seemed to be wearing swimming goggles and PJs with a UK flag over the top. Wanted to like UK bear best: Cuba’s cigar; Moldova’s bright cartoons; Cambodia’s stunning Angkor; Bhutan’s wish for peace; USA’s proud Statue of Liberty; Israel’s blood red hearts… all more smile worthy. Found Mongolia bear: a small butterfly flitted close and landed on his blue skin. If all the people in each country were actually inside the bears, how tiny would their bodies be? Their thoughts? Their memories? Their preoccupations? Their VODs? The unique and beautiful giant bears holding hands. Strong. Believing in love. Overcoming the VODs. A longing to show the bears to C.; watch his reaction. Promise to the bears: I’ll be back, to share you with him.

At home I tell him I’ve seen something amazing.

Was it an animal? he says.

Sort of, yes.

A kitten?

No, no, I know I can’t have a kitten. It would be crazy.

Somehow he hears ‘Ellos…’ More than one animal?


Insects? Elephants?

Oh stop it! I’ll show you. But before the 19th. Then they’ll be gone.


Oh I don’t know, another country I think.

He has that wide-eyed ET look that makes me want to hold him forever. I consider taking him to the bears NOW, in the dark. I consider saying more and spoiling his eventual discovery with what I already know. I was always absolutely hopeless at not spilling the beans. But, I notice that I love him enough to stay quiet, promise to show him before the 19th, distract him with talk of Dengue.

In a separate course of events, a friend sends me a link to a video. I saw the same link a few days ago somewhere else. Didn’t watch it then: Judged it by its cover and thought it looked like yet another uninspiring reality TV moment. Yesterday I did watch it. I’m not sure I want to go into my reaction to the video, so I won’t. Revealing one small piece of my soul is enough for one morning.

Maybe if you’ve seen the bears, here or in another country, you’ll share your reaction to them with me. Maybe if you haven’t seen the bears, you’ll share your reaction to this video and to the reactions you see in it. I’m interested.

Today I am thinking about how our past helps carve us out, influences our reactions and our behaviour, but that in the moment of noticing ourselves, we have the chance to choose something fresh for our future, if we want. Both the bears and Susan have somehow reminded me that I can do that, I can be whoever I want, because I am an amazing human being.

Here’s what calmed VOD, for a while at least: The bears and Susan Boyle.

Thank you to Tina in Seattle and Will in Milan for bringing the video to my attention, one after the other. Go Susan!

If you’re in Buenos Aires, you can meet the bears in Plaza San Martín until the 19th April.

UPDATE 20th April: I went back to say bye bye to the bears. Noticed Canada bear was missing. Here’s why. Sad. Me and C. loved the bears and I hugged them. Here’s how. Safe journey to Uruguay, beautiful Buddy Bears.