The Meaning of Life – The Man, the Bear and the Unexpected Guest

If you want to tell your children a little story to illustrate the meaning of life, you are in luck. I have made this story. I call it “The Man, the Bear and the Unexpected Guest.” So enjoy this little tale my friends.

The Man

In Alaska on a tiny lush island stands a man wearing an old worn thick plaid shirt. He is in front of a cabin made of the thickest trees from the deepest parts of the forest. He watches the icy arctic water crash against the black pebbled beach. The fresh northern air fills his lungs.

He notices a large brown bear slowly making its way up a small stream behind the cabin.

The bear walks up to him and begins to talk. This is where our story begins.

The Bear

“You have lived out here for so long alone. I’ve watched you and wondered what gives you life.” the bear grumbled as he hunched down to the man’s face.

This man had spoken with the bears many times so the talking bear did not startle him in the least.

“What do you mean by ‘give me life’?” the man asked.

“My little bear cubs give me life,” the bear replied. “As they grow healthy and become great hunters, I am given much life.”

“You must mean happiness, bear.” the main said laughing. “Happiness is the good times you want to remember.”

The man thought back to one single moment. One sunny day in a tiny pool, she slowly came out of the water and smiled as she pulls her long thick hair back. The water dripped down her face.

“No,” said the bear. “Happiness is not life. My cubs give me life in sadness and in happiness.”

“I don’t think we have a word for what you are describing.” said the man. “We just call that living. No one gives us life, it just happens.”

“You foolish man. I have watched you and you are not alive my friend. You are not alive at all.”

“Not being alive means that you are no longer breathing.” said the man.

“Ha.” the bear bellowed out a huge laugh. “So none of you know of this then.”

“We are seeking the meaning of life as a species all the time,” the man explained. “We spend our lives trying to understand why we live.”

“Life is gift that is given.” The bear grumbled and settled himself. “Like water and fish we need it to survive. Like fish, along this stream of life if we are fast enough we can grab it and be sustained. ”

“If life is a gift, who gives us this gift?” the man asked.

“Who gives us the fish?” the bear said quietly.

“I don’t know. It’s just part of what this world came to be.” said the man.

“Every beautiful moment gives you life. Each of these, like sunbeams shining through dark clouds, light your way through your story.” the bear said waving his arms wide as he talked.

“But I want to know why. How did this all come to be?”

“We have a story amongst the bears to explain this. Do you want to hear it?”

“Of course.” said the man

The Creation of the World

“This world began much like it is now. Many of the animals you see now were here.

“Many other worlds just like ours are also filled with life. Creatures we could never imagine and will never see.

“The law of this world is creation and change. Every being creates by continuing its line, and it changes as it lives and is finally brought back into the earth.

“Some worlds have different laws. Laws we could never imagine and will never see.

“Us bears do not know why this world is.. but we are given peace as we are given life.

“There is sadness.

“My cub’s mother was killed by a man like yourself. I loved her dearly with all of my heart. When I first saw her, those deep brown eyes penetrated into my furry soul and I knew at that moment we would forever be together. When she died, I saw her stare at me with those beautiful eyes. I saw her change. As tears rolled down those beautiful eyes, she slowly lost her ability to experience this world. She is where I will be.

“I get lonely and scared.”

“But you are giant grizzly bear. You are the king of this island.”

“Yes. I am big. But sometimes I am scared of many things you would not understand. Something inside drives me. It makes me sleep in the winter. It’s power is overwhelming.

“You do not feel this call any longer. Your kind is weak. You are controlled by emotion.

“The world is is here,” said the bear as he wrapped up his story, “and we are in it. Some days our thirst for life is quenched. One day we will be in the earth and our memories and wisdom and strength will be erased. ”

“Well, I think you bears are a depressing bunch.” the man said. “All this doom and gloom. You make it seem like life isn’t worth living.

“I think you bears have got it all wrong.”

The Unexpected Guest

Suddenly, one of the fish flopped its way up onto the pebbly beach. The bear flashed his teeth but stopped when the fish began to speak.

“Us fish have it figured out. When we swim upstream, our bodies become numb. Our minds become numb. Within us, our body is at peace for our entire existence.

“Even when you eat us, bear, we do not know. We are numb to your teeth as they tear into us. We were designed to our numb ourselves to this world.

“The world provides each species with numbing agents designed to make this world worth living.”

“To be honest,” said the man, “I take Prozac and I smoke pot. I think I’d have to agree with the fish.”

“You are both insane. You seriously think that we are in this world to numb ourselves? To peacefully make our way through this world. Never feeling love… Never feeling fear and pain.” The bear was noticeably disgusted.

“Yes.” said the fish.

“Absolutely.” said the man nodding.

The man and the fish stared at one another for a moment and realized how similar they were.

“And all this time I thought I was more like you.” said the man to the bear.

The bear picked up the fish and bit into his stomach, ripping out the flesh. He swallowed some of the fish’s pink insides. He looked at the man and smiled.

“Yeah. You’re like the fish. Great choice.” the bear said flatly. He began to walk back into the forest.

“You bears can really be unfriendly.” the man said.

A New Man

The man looked out across the ocean and felt its beauty fill his entire being.

It filled him with life.

He got into his old rusty plane floating in the water tied to the shore with a thick rope.

He flew to Anchorage and went to work.

That night he got really… really… really.. lit (definitiion provided for young children and the elderly among us).

The End.


  1. Mark McCowen

    Great story, David! The whole time I was expecting some philosophical ending but then you turned it around and threw something completely different at me. To be honest, I guess you could say it still had a philosophical ending just not the one I was thinking. Cool. Original. Creative.

    I would love to see you post more stories. I’ve had a hard time getting people to read my stuff even if it’s 5 pages. People are a little more patient when it comes to the visual arts. I guess they don’t understand how much time you put into a story even if it’s short. Thanks for sharing.

  2. David Mulhern

    Haha – hey buddy. Thank you! I have been inspired lately – I’ve been reading through your story about dreaming and it is really sweet – Remember that park we called the “wonderpark” – well I go there to do stuff. Last night I fell asleep in the park working – woke up sweating and happy. Now I’m getting breakfast and working from Wildflower

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