Albuquerque-based spiritual counselor Stuckey (Kissed by a Fox: And Other Stories of Friendship in Nature, 2012) delivers a tale of the bear as yogi.
What’s a person to do when, having written a “memoir showing my deepening connection with nature,” the drudgery of book tours and talks and appearances sets in? Naturally, summon forth an ennui-busting bear, introduced courtesy of the neighborhood shaman for hire, a “Spirit Helper” who “loves and supports a person throughout their life and who provides a face—a point of contact, a relationship—for connecting with spirit.” Bear, the spirit helper that materialized, weighed his helpee and found her wanting in the listening-to-the-spirits department. Then, as if having read a little Carlos Castaneda by way of brushing up, Bear instructed Stuckey in what passes for bruinic/druidic philosophy: “Compassion for the body and for the material world is a sure foundation,” he says. When she realized she “simply couldn’t afford living in this town” (Boulder, Colorado, her home at the time), Bear told her, “Come to the neutral mind! Come to joy!” For Bear, it seems, joy involves appearing in dreams wearing “a frilly maid’s costume” or a golfer’s hat. (“I mean, really, Bear—golfing?”) But if that’s your bliss, well….Bear sends mixed messages, too, telling Stuckey to sit in peacefulness on one page while inviting her, paw extended, to “lead me on yet another marvelous if puzzling adventure.” Puzzling indeed, though David Carradine might feel proud to utter Bear’s concluding thought: “When a person realizes that the path is just one of daily communion with what-is, that is the point.”
The book may find a few appreciative readers in Santa Fe and Sedona, but fans of actual ursines will want to look elsewhere, while those seeking wisdom from a bear ought to look no farther than A.A. Milne.