Is that a bear behind you??  If you’re living in the northwest portion of my brain you will see one, regardless of whether it is there or not.  I love the outdoors and get giddy when I find a new hiking trail or right next to the lake path.  My cynical southeast brain worries that walking the same path will get boring, but it never does.  Take that, Mississippi!  And yet, when I’m outside enjoying the beauty of nature I always have one worry…one worry that expresses itself quite loudly…BEARS.

Yesterday I walked/ran four miles on the Raritan Canal with my boyfriend.  We couldn’t have had better weather and had a great time mocking each others paces and just plain old enjoying the outdoors.  I didn’t tell him this because I didn’t want to ruin the day, but I was somewhat worried that we would run into a bear.  Let’s set the setting, shall we?  We were not in the forest.  There were main roads on both sides, in front, and behind.  There have not been any bear sightings in the area in quite some time…believe me…if there were, I would know about them.  But when we passed a giant clump of animal poop (hopefully animal poop), I mildly freaked out.  Even though I kept walking, I froze.  In the end there were no bears and we had a great run.  A few months ago I was up in the Berkshires and decided that I would enjoy a wonderful early morning walk in the woods (yes, real woods).  I forced myself a few hundred feet ahead before turning around, heading back to the safer, more populated trail.  No one had said that there had been bear sightings.  Shouldn’t I have been more concerned with the peace of the forest than my neurosis?  What did I miss out on by being such a big pussy?

So where does this fear come from?  I’m sure I’m not the only one to be afraid of the possibility of running into a bear, but why do I conjure them up when there is no logical reason to do so?  Does it stem from my (probably unpopular) opinion that Winnie the Pooh is the most boring animal cartoon/literature character ever?  Am I secretly an adrenaline junkie and this fear is really a hope that I get to see one in the flesh?  Nah…I’m more concerned about my own flesh than theirs. 

Anyone else have a fear that causes said scary thing to appear only in your mind?