Why Mystical Bear?
Well, Metaphysical Meercat was already taken
INT. Basement – Night
The time period – the late 1980’s. America Online! and Compuserve were the newest rage. A young guy just coming into his technical prime arrives on the scene and is struck by his first major dilemma: what to call himself when he creates his login. Sure he could go with the standard name followed by a random number (i.e. John53972) but that seems so boring. He needed some way to stand out, to let others know a little bit about himself just by seeing his handle in one of the virtual chat rooms.
He’d been out as gay for a few years so there was that. He also knew that hairy, bearded guys on the chubby side were commonly referred to as bears in the gay community. OK, now things were getting somewhere.
Initially, he decided to go with ShyINBear for shy, Indiana bear. That handle didn’t really seem to do anything in the chat rooms, however, where he was seeking to make friends. No one wanted to strike up a conversation with someone whose name said “I’m a socially awkward Bozo. Wanna chat? Good! I’ll listen.” Something else was definitely needed.
At the time, he was still pretty spiritual, although his beliefs had definitely changed quite a bit over the years since college. The Bible college beliefs had long fallen away. He had discovered other faith practices such as shamanism as well as more progressive forms of Christianity. He flashed back to a book he had purchased years before by a Dominican priest named Matthew Fox – On Becoming a Musical, Mystical Bear. Mystical Bear had a nice ring to it and fit him to a T. And thus, Mystical Bear was born.
Enough with this third person bs. This isn’t some dang historical documentary about anyone famous.
I’ve been using this handle for quite some time now. Of course it’s significance has changed over the years and has followed my ever changing beliefs regarding spirituality. Any more, it’s as ingrained as my real name – I am Mystical Bear – even though I’m not as sure of my mystical bent as I was when I started.
I wish I could say there was some deep, theological meaning as to why I chose it. I also wish I could say that Fox’s book made such a difference in my life that I just had to take on the handle because of it. Unfortunately, I remember little of the book and don’t think I actually finished it. (His other works, however, deeply affected me for a long time; this one – meh.) On the plus side, creating this website has made me go to my bookcase and pull it out again. Maybe, I’ll view it differently now as opposed to when I was younger. If I get around to rereading it, (my to-be-read list is humongous), I’ll be sure and blog about it.
So there you have it. Nothing earth-shattering – just a simple way to differentiate myself from the thousands of others out there finding their way in the formative stages of the internet. It’s been good to me through the years and I honor it now by naming this blog after it.
As far as my mystic side goes, it’s still there. However it’s morphed into something entirely different than when I first claimed the name. Religion (and to a lesser degree, spirituality) has been one of the major fronts where a large number of battles have taken place in my life. And just when I think I’ve got things settled, something new comes along and the scars that I thought were long healed reappear fresh and bloody. Guess that’s the nature of us Enneagram Fours, though, huh? I know – no excuses. I’m working on it.
I know that a large chunk of this will be dealt with in this novel. Will it be over with completely? I doubt it. And that’s alright. Other authors more famous than I have dealt with similar issues throughout their entire careers and it hasn’t hurt them. I’m ready to now deal with at least some of the issues and go on from there. And with that said, let’s move on.
But Is That Really the Whole Story?
Creating this blog made me take another look at how the regal bear is viewed culturally. Sure, they can be terrifying creatures, especially when one is chasing you somewhere out in the Alaskan wilderness. Still, I’ve had the privilege of seeing two bears in the wild – once in Alaska and once in northern Idaho as it wandered the neighborhood cleaning out bird feeders. I’m not saying I wasn’t in the least bit fearful. Still, the fear was overpowered by this sense of awe. I guess I still have some sense of the mystical in my life.
From childhood on, bears have symbolized comfort and safety. We’ve probably all had numerous teddy bears in our lives. (And I would hazard a guess they’re still the most common stuffed animal toy today even though dogs and cats are our favorite pets.) The mama bear is a symbol of fierce protection – don’t even try to get between her and her cubs. Native peoples view the bear as possessing strong medicine and a deep connection with the divine.
As we make this journey, dipping into possibly uncomfortable territory, I offer this intention: May the various attributes of Bear watch over us. And just to remind us of this, you’ll see various images of the bear all over the site. May they remind you of bear’s influence in your own life.