Tolstoy's Bear

By Curt Struna • June 16, 2013

The author Leo Tolstoy wrote a short story about a bear hunting trip. In this story, he went with hunters to where they found signs that bears were in the area. They proceeded to stake a piece of meat to the ground under a tree. They then suspended a very large log to a limb on the tree, so that the limb was hanging only one foot over the piece of meat. The hunters then hid nearby and waited. Eventually a bear cub came along and found the meat. As it was eating the meat, the log was getting in the way, so the cub pushed it. The log swung back and knocked the cub over. The cub rushed at the log and pushed it as hard as it could and the log swung away. As the cub went back to the meat, the log swung back, hit the cub in the head and killed it.

The hunters waited. Soon, the mother bear came along and found her cub. As she was nudging the cub to try and get it up, the log was getting in her way. She gave the log a hard push; it swung away and then swung back and hit her. Enraged, the mother bear stood up and pushed the log with all her might and it swung far away. As she turned to attend to her cub, the log swung back and hit her in the back of the head and killed her.

Both bears could have eaten the meal if only they had left the log alone. Bears and logs, people and life. Be careful when you think of pushing, shoving, or getting angry. The world pushes back.

Curt Struna


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