Butterfly Galaxy

When I was little, my father brought me some silk worms to take care of. I don’t know if he wanted to teach me something or just wanted to keep me busy. Anyway, I watched them carefully, I fed them mulberry leaves daily, I created all the conditions for them to grow and cover themselves in those beautiful silk eggs that they left as soon as they methamorphosed into silk moths.

It was an interesting experience that thought me about transformation, about how things in life are in a perpetual motion and change. Back then, I didn’t grasp the full, deep significance of what happened. That revealed to me later in life, but still… my understanding started in that moment, in my early childhood. The moths and the butterflies are a well-known symbol of change, of resurrection, but to me, they are also a symbol of the fragility of existence. All it takes for a moth or for a butterfly not to be able to fly anymore is some rain drops on their wings. So little. The same drops of water that quench the thirst of a swallow, are a real threat for these little wonderful beings. And just like in their case, the entire world is threaten by something while moving and transforming constantly: sometimes by water, sometimes by fire, sometimes by earthquakes, or meteorites, sometimes by simple words. One day, while googling all kind of nonsense on the subject of transformation, I stumble upon a quote that remained with me:

“We are all just a car crash, a diagnosis, an unexpected phone call, a newfound love, or a broken heart away from becoming a completely different person.
How beautifully fragile are we that so many things can take but a moment to alter who we are for forever?” – Samuel Decker Thompson

Of course, my next step was to follow this “adudewritingpoetry” (as he calls himself) on instagram. You should, too. He has some beautiful things to say.

And, while being so impressed with these beautiful, fragile butterflies, I have realized that their lives, their delicate beauty, their fragility is not by anything different than the fragility of the Universe and its constant moving and transformation. And of course, from this inner realization, my new painting was born: The Butterfly Galaxy. Because… what’s in a butterfly, what’s in a planet or a star? Same thing. Same changes. Same fragility. Same wonder. Different levels but, in the end, it is the same thing.

Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to read the inner process that led me to this painting. 🙂

PS: if you feel that your walls need a Butterfly Galaxy print, you can order it here: Society6, or, if in Europe, here is a wonderful store: Artflakes.

You Are Safe with Me (Bear Version)

There are only few animals species whose lives aren’t affected by humans, if any. The bears aren’t one of them. If they are not hunted for trophies, they are hunted for their gall bladders or, even worse, they are raised encaged in bile bear farms. In those “prisons”, their bile is extracted out of them through tubes during their entire life. Sadly, this is the only life some bears (especially the moon bears) know, although they still have some vague memories of their far away childhood. Those faded flashbacks of the past belong to a happy time, the time before their mothers were killed and they were caught, imprisoned and raised in the tiny cages that soon became their homes. There, the only kind of affection they got was the one when they rubbed themselves against the cage’s bars… if they had the strength to do that.

If bile bear farming sounds horrible to me, shooting bears for trophy doesn’t appeal to me, either. Searching on the internet, I came across this definition: “Trophy hunting is the shooting of carefully selected animals – frequently big game such as rhinos, elephants, lions, pumas and bears – under official government licence, for pleasure. The trophy is the animal (or its head, skin or any other body part) that the hunter keeps as a souvenir.“ It represents the success of the hunt and it is usually exposed in special designed “trophy rooms” together with the weaponry.

Two words have imprinted on my cerebral cortex just near the “trophy” word: “pleasure” and “souvenir”. I wonder how can a hunter ignore the fact that his “souvenir”, his proud and joy, is someone’s mother that he killed only to put her head on a wall and show off to his friends?

But, at least, the bears have escaped the canned hunting. This kind is reserved only for lions and other exotic animals, but, nonetheless, another, even more cruel and brutal practice directed against wild life. Humans must be really bored. I am, too, sometimes, but I have my three dogs’ tummies to stroke especially reserved for my boredom moments. Most likely, those hunters don’t have such “antidotes”, so I can understand their need to fill their days with something. And what is to do if they were raised in a specific manner and they don’t know any better? Usually, something powerful needs to happen in order for them (or any other people) to change their worldview, but, many times, not even a huge meteorite hitting Earth is powerful enough! I should make their acquaintances with my dogs… Who knows? Those three little musketeers move mountains with their cuteness, so there’s a chance to move one’s opinion on kindness.

This painting was born from the above related knowledge of the cruelty against bears and from the need to find a way to protect them. For the moment, I don’t know how they can be helped, I feel powerless in this regard. Until the humanity will make a conscience shift, if ever, this kind of practices will still exist. And I, as heartbroken as I am knowing this awful truth, I must accept cruelty as a innate part of our souls, a trait of our species and continue to live as beautifully as I can and do what is in my power. Today, a painting. May this raise some awareness to somebody, bring joy to others and, maybe, just maybe, the love and the good, caring thoughts I have put in it could somehow, bring some relief to the bears in need.

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read these lines!

Enjoy your day!

What A Bear Dreams Of

What is the story that led to this illustration? Well… at first, it might seem that the story has nothing to do with the painting, but my mind is so twisted, that, somehow, from jet-skiing, I ended up with this bear dreaming of a berry rain.

Last month, Dana, a friend of mine was so insistent about going jet-skiing on a city break in a resort not so far away, that her husband took some days off from work in the middle of the week and off they went (and I with them) to live their short exciting adventure! Reaching the hotel, they checked in and, without loosing any other minute, they rushed out, borrowed a jet-ski and went for a ride. At least so I had thought! But Dana dressed up in her new branded outfit, climbed on the jet ski and took a photogenic stance with a satisfied happy smile on her face, her blond hair messed by the wind. Her partner took several pictures of her from different angles while she was posing, faking. When she was pleased with some of the photos, she got down from the Yamaha, without even starting the engine, went onto the hotel’s deck, ordered a coffee, lighted a cigarette and, very content, started to post on instagram, facebook and where not, the wonderful pictures with her “jet-skiing” and, of course, having the time of her life! And that was all she did! She had never climbed up on the rented Yamaha again. Not then and not the following days. The many likes she got on the social media made her extremely happy. The jet-ski could wait for another time! Its mission was accomplished for now.

I know my friend and I am aware of the world we are living in, but, still, I was shocked! I was absolutely sure that, once we had reached the destination, she’ll never get down from the jet ski. She wanted it so badly! I was fooled by her exuberance! I wonder how many of our dreams, of our wished are real, these days, how much we want things for the sake of the experience, because they bring us joy and how much for posting them on social media. What gives people more pleasure, what matters: experiencing things or faking, posing for the perfect pictures while pretending of doing this or that only to gain followers or likes, shares and virtual comments? People are of many kinds, we are split in several categories but, somehow, the Facebook-Instagram-TickTok-and-the-like generation feels like gaining more and more terrain. Or maybe is it just me, being overwhelmed and, therefore, having my perceptions altered? Who knows?

I feel that, nowadays, life is very tiring for humanity, as people never have their head clear, empty of thoughts even if meditation is a trend (or, maybe, just a fad). There is always at least one thought present in our heads: to record our experiences through photos or/and videos in order to post them online and get some love and live a false feeling of belonging. How much of the authentic experience of life is lost that way? Well…I don’t know. Everything is relative and debatable and there is so much do talk on the subject. I could run my mouth for hours but I better go enjoy my day with my lovely dogs.

And since I am in a bear mood lately, I couldn’t stop thinking of bears’ life and their dreams and wishes compared to ours. They are so simple, modest, authentic beings. While we dream and want all kind of things and we are never satisfied and happy and always wish for more (a new destination, a new partner, a new job, new plasticated lips or boobs, the latest smartphone, a new car, a new branded outfit and what not) the biggest and, most likely, the only true wish of a bear is a berry rain. That wouldn’t bring them happiness as they are already happy, but it would be so fun and yum! Just that, without posting anything, anywhere!

Thank you for stopping! Wishing you many happy whimsical dreams!

Buy this art:

Europe: Artflakes

North and South America and worldwide: Society6

Tea Time with Ala, the Bear

Last week, I have re-watched Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” followed, a day after, by a documentary on the History of Earth and Life.

Being under the impression of Kubrik’s film while watching the documentary, I have realised, once more, that people have “eyes wide shut” not only in relationships like in the movie, but in many aspects of life, not to say in almost everything. We kinda live on auto-pilot. We see the world, but we don’t really see it. We hear things, but we don’t really hear them. We know things, but we don’t really know them. Take me, for example, I had lived decades knowing that the troposphere, the lower layer of the atmosphere, is only about 10 km thick (its thickness varies seasonally and geographically, though) but, actually, not truly knowing it, not in all the complexity of that knowledge. For me it was just a number, a piece of information I learned in school. Watching the documentary, something happened. That was the moment when I had realized that the layer of the atmosphere where we spend our life in, the one that contains apx 75-80 % of the mass of the entire atmosphere, the air that we breath, is just a narrow band and that the distance from the earth’s surface to the upper end of the troposphere equals the distance from my door to the restaurant where I use to drink my morning tea sometimes. And that is a small distance! I cross it in no time. Visualizing that, I had suddenly felt things differently. This thin circle of air and the planet it covers became more fragile to me and I understood even more than before how easy it is for us to break the balance of everything and put life on Earth at risk. Every one of our actions gained so much more weight in my new understanding of things. Every step we make had suddenly become of much greater importance.

Feeling a little overwhelmed by this new understanding of things, I felt the need to take some time to reflect on all these. I didn’t want to shut myself in my room, instead I wanted to go in a place with a different visual perspective on Earth. Up on a cloud seemed a good idea, as watching everything from a higher point of view was just what I needed for the kind of thoughts that troubled me. I asked Ala, a dear bear friend, to come join me, as I hadn’t seen her in a while and I missed her dearly. She is busy with her cubs, lately, and she doesn’t have too much time for anything else. But, lucky me, the little bears were asleep and, besides, that, Ala likes blueberry tea more than fresh blueberries, so she couldn’t say no to the invitation.

We climbed up in the sky on a rope ladder (made from rope that an Indian magician gave me once) and we got comfortable on some puffy clouds with a cup of warm tea to keep us warm as the atmosphere is colder up there. And we started talking about the things that concerned me, but the panorama was so spectacular from up there that we had soon stopped talking and just stood there, enjoying the view, the silence and the tea. Luckily, no plane crossed the sky to hassle us, but a few birds stopped by and asked for biscuits. Good thing they did, as my disturbing thoughts flew away with them, leaving me totally relaxed, enjoying my time with Ala. I came to the conclusion that there is no better way to reflect on the importance of things than from up on a cloud, with a new perspective over everything, with a cup of tea, with a bear friend near and having a such impressive view in front of our eyes! Magical! Only good things can come from spending a morning like that! You must try it! Or another different perspective at your choice.

PS: Do you know that we hear sounds because of the atmosphere? In empty space, humans would not be able to hear any sounds! I thought that there is silence in space as there are no motorcycles there, but no. It is because there is no air. Or water. Or any other medium.

Thank you for stopping by! Have a magical tea time this week and always!

Yo, the Yoga Bear

Since starting the practice of yoga, I’d realized that there’s a yoga world out there: with blogs, and vlogs, and podcasts, and movies, and Tv shows, radio shows, tedEx talks, commercials, magazines, workshops, schools, courses, diplomas, yoga retreats, all kind of yoga events; an entire world with people doing yoga on a daily basis, talking about the meaning of yoga, about its origin, its principles, about centering and breathing, about chakras and subtle energies, about the perfect moment or place for doing yoga, with people aspiring to accomplish the perfect posture, the perfect alignment for the best benefits or for an awesome photo that will make an impression on social media; a world with people doing yoga on mats, of rubber or jute, personalized, non-slippery, ecological, organic, with people using top yoga brands for their outfits, props, towels, attending the best yoga studios, equipped with with best mats, best yoga bells and Tibetan bowls, having the best yoga teacher that uses the best yoga music, and the perfect yoga sequence followed by the best shavasana in town, talking about yoga benefits and living a yogic lifestyle, with yogic tea, yogic food, using yoga incense sticks, and, now and then, practicing yoga with goats, yoga with beers, and what not, as nowadays people need new and diverse things before anything else.

Being caught in this swirling yoga world, I had once tried to attain a close to perfect posture during a yoga class and I managed to tear apart my right hamstring. And that was the moment when I had realized that a change of perspective was in order. Even if I like yoga, or the idea of it, very much, I felt that something was not right with the way “the city” was practicing it. Not for me, at least. So I went out, into the wild, to find a different kind of yoga mentor then the ones I’d met till then.

And I did. After wandering to and fro for months, I had finally found Yo, the yoga bear, in a forest near my home town. Life is like that! We wander in searching for something all over the world, only to find it, after years and years, when that something had already lost its meaning, in our backyard. There are actually many things in our backyard – or in our front yard – but because they are so close and present, we oversee them and we search for them in the wide world, sometimes for a lifetime. Well… in my case it didn’t take so long, as I was lucky to find Yo after only several months. He had no definitions, no labels for anything, let alone for yoga. And he had no perfect rubber mat that he had to pay for in order to throw it away as soon as it would had become slippery. The earth was his mat. I lived more than an year with Yo and I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I’ve learned to live simple, with the thick moss carpet as my bed and the trees’ canopy as my roof, to eat only as much as I needed and mostly vegan. He thought me to be kind and understanding, especially with the bad ones; not to hurt anyone, not even an ant, neither physically, nor emotionally (and, yes, ants can be emotionally hurt); not to tell lies, except when dealing with foxes, as foxes use the truth for mean purposes and, therefore, in such situations, an alteration or reinterpretation of the truth would be best for the general good. He thought me how to connect myself to the trees’ souls, to the flickering stars, to the upside down sleeping bats or to the sightless earthworms, to everything; he taught me how to travel the world by riding a pale of wind or a crocodile-shaped cloud (not all clouds are suitable for traveling the world), or how to dissolve myself into the mists of dawn, becoming invisible so I can spy the shy fawns drinking water from the lake. He thought me how to find my inner light. One day, after one of his inspiring lessons, I started to glow. Literally. Like a firefly. Well, at least my right side did. I must work some more on the left one. I guess I still have some issues to resolve before glowing completely. And he thought me to love everyone and everything, to be content and grateful for simple things, for what I have: even for my unglowing left side, even for the birthmarks that I have and I used to hate. He told me that my skin is the sky and the birthmarks on it are the stars. Wow! I have my own galaxy on my body and it took me so many years and a bear to see it! I named it YoGalaxy.

As for the yoga postures, he didn’t teach me many, as he only knew several. He was a different kind of yogi. But there was one pose that we did daily: the Bear Balancing Pose, as we, humans, call it. He didn’t know the posture’s name. He was just doing it. And I with him. Together, happy and content and, of course, balanced. And this is the story of this painting that started with a torn hamstring.

Thank you for stopping by! Have a wonderful, happy day!

The Bear Brothers and the Firefly Show

A blade of grass: such an ordinary thing and, yet, a marvel, the work of a genius. The entire Universe pulsates in that blade of grass that we daily step on without acknowledging its existence. We walk on marvels every day without realizing it. Isn’t this a thing to meditate on? For many it isn’t. For too many. But not for bears. They live their life being aware and grateful for the grass that makes such a fresh fragrant mattress for when they are tired, for the shadow of a tree in the hot summer days, for the light of the moon in the dark nights, for the delicious blueberries of the forest, for the huge claws they have so they can climb trees, for the rain that gives them water (humans have pipes, that have altered their perception of water, so they often see the rain like nothing more than the nasty thing that had ruined their vacation), for the fireflies that offer them light shows more wonderful than any fireworks.

One day, I saw these two little bear brothers that were so amazed by the spectacle that the fireflies had to offer that they had forgotten to move. They sat in awe and enjoyed the show. In total silence. Without analyzing it, without comparing it to the last year performance or with any other performance they had ever seen. They just sat there and enjoyed the symphony of lights that the fireflies exhibited.

And sitting there, I felt the need and the obligation, at the same time, to educate the little bears and share them some of my knowledge. So, there I was, telling them that the fireflies are actually beetles, not flies as one might think. That they belong to Lampyridae family that has more than 2000 known species. That the fireflies spend the most of their life (about 1-2 years) in larval stage eating snails, worms and slugs, which they inject with a paralyzing substance. That their adult life lasts only several weeks and they feed on nectar and pollen but most adults of many kinds of fireflies do not feed at all. Given the small amount of time they have on this Earth for finding a mate, they don’t want to waste it on eating. Their soul mate could pass by just when they are busy chewing or digesting and puff, their chance for finding their written-in-the-stars pair is gone. So … for the love sake, these romantic beetles choose not to eat anything and stay alert, eyes wide open, light flickering, or, at least, this is my romantic approach on the matter.

The little bears were so quiet while they had been listening to what I was saying, looking so interested in the subject, that I felt obliged to share some more. So, after a short pause, I started to talk again. And so, the little cubs had learned that the fireflies don’t flash their lights just to brag about what they can do. It is, actually, a love call (for most of the species, at least). The male emits light from up in the sky mainly to attract mates. And he has to be really engaged and creative with his light flash pattern as the female will respond back from the ground level, only if she is impressed. I also let them know that there are some regions on Earth where the exponents of a species, called synchronous firefly, “blink” in unison. That would be a nice light show to watch! And I kept on telling them many other interesting facts I knew on the subject.

But for the little bears enough was enough. Their mother thought them to be respectful so they tried to listen to me carefully for a while. But soon it became too much for them. Why is this lady keep on talking while the show is on? Does she have no respect for the performers, they wondered, probably. Does she not enjoy the show? At last, they managed to gather all their courage and, politely, asked me to shut up and just watch. In other words, of course, but this was the idea.

And they were right. Even if I was offended at first… I couldn’t blame them for wanting to just be and let the magic of the moment infuse all their senses. And I did the same…finally. So, in the end, the little cubs were the ones that thought me a valuable lesson, that has remained with me ever since.

* For this piece I was inspired by the Moon Bear’s sad stories that I’ve read lately and by the “Grave of the Fireflies” wonderful animated movie (a must see IMO).*

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read the story behind my painting.

Please excuse my eventual mistakes, as English is not my first language.

The Moon Bear (and why is he called like that)

Moon Bear… What’s the story behind his name? I didn’t know it until, one night, I asked the Moon herself. And she had much more to say than Google.

A long long time ago, The Moon Bear was simply called “The Black Asian Bear”. He was entirely black, darker than ebony, darker than night. The white moon-shaped spot wasn’t on his chest at the time. But as dark as his fur was, as light and gentle was his spirit. But the spirit does not reveal itself to everyone. Only the exterior does. And this was the Black Asian Bear’s misfortune. His darker-than-night appearance frightened the China’s emperor of the time, who came to the belief that the bear was an evil spirit that came to their land to widespread doom and gloom. He got afraid for his kingdom and his people, for his crops, for himself and his family, for the Sun and the sky, for everything. And fear has the reputation to cloud one’s judgement. Which it did. The emperor decreed that any being that was entirely black was demon-sent and must be hunted down in order for their land to be saved from damnation. And so the hunting of the Asian Black Bears had started millenniums ago. Many were killed and some were imprisoned in cages to study them. One must know his enemy! The bears that had escaped had to live on the run. Not a good life, but the only one for them at that time. The Moon, who was very empathetic for as long as she knew herself, felt so sorry for the Black Bears that she took a vow to help them escape the dark fate that lay before them. She took them under her care and one night, while they were sleeping, she touched their chests with her magic beams. A white moon-shaped spot appeared on the bears’ chests, a symbol of light and wisdom and hope. The Moon thought that the hunting will stop now that the bears weren’t entirely black anymore. It didn’t. It actually made things worse as the emperor came to the belief that the Black Moon Bears, as he called them from that point on, were not only demon-sent but they also possessed magical powers. How else could those white moons appear on their chest over night? The Emperor summoned the alchemists of the time to find a way to extract that magic from the caged bears that would then be used by the doctors to heal the Chinese people. But the magic power was nowhere to be found. Instead, during their search, the alchemists had discovered the healing properties of the bears’ bile. And that was enough for the bears to be haunted and imprisoned from then on.

So, when the bears were black as night, they were hunted because they were considered evil spirits, after they were touched by the Moon and got their white spot on their chests, they were hunted and imprisoned for their “magic” and, after that, for their “magic” bile. They had no chance, no matter what. The Moon felt heartbroken and saw no light in the bears’ future. She didn’t know what else to do to save them, she felt stuck, she felt helpless. Then, one night, she had an epiphany: Not the bears had to be changed in order to turn their fate, but the men’s hearts and minds. Easier said than done. That wasn’t something that could be accomplished over night, nor over years, nor over centuries or millenniums. But she is an optimistic one and she has patience. Plenty. She had started her work thousands of full moons ago. Over time, she noticed some positive changes in people, not as many as one might wish, but the humans are on the right track, the Moon says. So … she keeps on working on her task. Until when? She can’t say. But she is a patient one. And she has time. The bears, unfortunately, don’t. But well… they always can choose to go to Ursidora, the invisible bear island and live happy and safe there until the Moon finishes her job.

From my talks with the Moon on the subject of bears, this painting was born. I’ve tried to capture the bear’s gentle, unbroken-by-his-fate spirit, the one that doesn’t reveal to everyone, the one that must be searched under his black as night appearance.

This piece is dedicated to all the Moon Bears and to all those who fight for them so they can have the beautiful, peaceful, happy life they deserve.

Thank you for stopping by!

Moments with My Dogs

This is a personal post, so skip it if you consider that it is irrelevant to you. I’ve just felt the need to share a bit of my life with you, so you get to know a bit better the person behind the crazy paintings like “The girl with the bird feeder hat”.

Four weeks have passed since I had to put my dear Nemo to sleep. It was such a hard decision but I couldn’t stand seeing his suffering any more. He stepped onto the path that lead to the angels’ realm and he didn’t want to leave it no matter how hard I’ve tried to lure him back. The light from the angels’ land was too peaceful and warm bright. And maybe he thought that I could use another angel friend to help me from above. I talk to him from time to time. He’s ok. He met Tara, and Micky, and Cody, and Didi, and Kiki, and Maya, and Rex, and Piciu, and Corsa, and Lady. He has more friends there than he had here. He’s in good company. As for myself, as you can see, I have an army of angels watching over me. I’m in good paws. I miss Nemo’s physical presence a lot, though. But my dear Nasuki (his name is a made up one, a mix I’ve made from Nose and Suki-that means beloved in Japanese), who is now the man of the house or the head of the pack, whatever you want to call it, feels the hole left in my soul by Nemo’s depart and he is so cute in his attempt to filling it. He surrounds me with his love more than ever before. Every night he comes to dream with me. Lately, I call him my “dream buddy”. He often falls asleep on my shoulder or on the pillow near me. The girls, Lala and Nera, keep me company during the day, Nasuki, during the night. It is like they have split their responsibilities. Funny, cute, loving dogs. I would say that I have the best four-legged friends in the world, but I am sure everyone feels the same about his own furry companions. So, I guess I am just another one in the crowd that is blessed with the unconditional love of her best friends.

Ursidora: The Invisible Bear Island

The Story (inspired by the facts):

Somewhere, in the middle of the ocean there is a sanctuary for bears, an invisible bear island, Ursidora on its name, where every bear may come and live a happy humans-free life. No need to run anymore, no need to hide, no need to tremble for their cubs. Many bears came, some stayed, some returned to where they came from as they were home sick. It is not an easy thing to leave your native forest and come living on a distant island surrounded by endless wild water surfaces, no matter how much safety it would provide. But for some bears the absence of humans on the island was more important. So they remained despite their home sickness, despite feeling like they lost their roots. In time, the feeling of “home” will be restored. After several generations of bears, this will be the only home they will know, and the other lands, the old-native ones, will be known only from stories and humanity will be just an old horrible incomprehensible dream.

The bears are, usually, solitary beings, but on Ursidora the whole 8 bear species live together, as a community, cubs and adults, males and females and they are living a peaceful, beautiful life. And they all have to contribute to the welfare of this new land. Every bear has his specific job her, as the island needs proper maintenance.

The sun bears provide warmth and light whenever it is needed. Sometimes, when the sun forgets to show his face on the sky for several days in a row, it gets a little chilly on the island and the berry crops might be compromised if it weren’t for the sun bears. So they have a pretty important job when it comes to food. Also, during the coldest nights of the year, they are summoned by the other bears to warm the island. For the cubs’ sake, of course, as the adults wouldn’t admit that they are cold. So they had found in the little ones the perfect excuse.

There is a special place on the north of the island where the weather is colder and there are even frozen areas. It is where the polar bears live. They are the biggest bears on the island and the only ones that had never tasted blueberries. Not until now, anyway. As the island waters are sparse in seals, they had to eat berries to supplement their diet. And ohhh! how their mouths watered when the first berries touched their palates! But they didn’t say that to the others. They have their pride. They are hunters. They are carnivorous. They don’t eat blueberries. Well…only at night when no one sees them. But don’t tell anyone. The word spreads fast and the other bears might find out and then the polar bear image would be ruined forever. So …shhhh!

The polar bears are in charged with providing chilliness in the hot summer days, so the weather may be bearable. And they make a play out of their job! For example, they make ice puzzle bricks or ice balls for the cubs to play with, and, sometimes, they even build ice slides for who ever feels like ice-sliding, cubs or adults. They have such a joyful spirit and this is seen in everything they do, even in their job! They are a delight to be near to, especially for the little ones. Every time a Polar bear appears, he is instantly surrounded by cubs. They know it is play time.

The Giant Panda bears‘ only job is to be cute and through their cuteness to bring love and joy into the others’ hearts. Every time someone is in a bad mood, it is time for Panda to enter the stage and bring a smile or an Awww on the face and in the soul of the moody one. And Panda never fails to lift up one’s spirit. He simply has to show up. That’s it. His innate cuteness does the rest.

The spectacle bears are in charge with the security of the island. Through their magnifying spectacles, they are the first to observe from a great distance any ship or any other human-made machine that is approaching the island. Ursidora is invisible, but not immaterial. So, if a ship, a submarine, or whatever takes its course, its secret existence is in danger to be revealed. And that would be the end of it. So the spectacle bears have a huge responsibility in spotting any potential danger in time and send the wind or the oceanic currents, according to the situation, to deviate the course of any approaching ship and keep the island and its inhabitants safe.

The Asiatic black bears or the moon bears as they are known, regulate the tides every time the moon gets wild. Crazy moon! When she has a bad night (usually after a quarrel with the sun), she can’t control herself anymore or she doesn’t want to. I don’t know. She’s a bit of a …lunatic. In such nights, she would raise the ocean level so much that if it wasn’t for the moon bears, the berry crops would be flooded and, therefore, compromised. Another important job of the moon bears is to light up the cloudy nights or any other nights in which the moon doesn’t feel like showing her face. She is such a moody lady. But precious, nonetheless. And a bit of light is imperative during the night as the spectacle bears cannot see in the dark and they have to do their job day and night.

The sloth bears are in charge with what they do best: relaxing. Their main concern is to make sure that everyone takes enough time for relaxation and doesn’t stress too much with working and with the problems of the island. They are also the ones who provide counseling as they are good psychologists. And, unfortunately, for this generation of bears, home sick might be a problem, from time to time, one that needs to be solved with the help of a specialist.

The American black bear is the painter and the story teller of the island. He narrates through words and images drawn on soil. He is always surrounded by cubs eager to listen to new invented adventures about unknown lands and unimaginable beings. Two days a week, Wednesday and Saturday, usually, are reserved for adults. They need stories, too., as they are good for the spirit. When they don’t tell stories, they paint portraits of the inhabitants. They are in great demand. Everyone wants to be immortalized on the island stones.

The grizzly bears are the wisest. They are the problem and conflict solvers (other than psychological, that are the sloth bears’ area of expertise). And there are many problems, many questions on the island: which way to go to reach the tallest peak, where to bury the cubs’ milk teeth, near whom to stay during the story telling gatherings, to make or not to make friends with the seagulls, how many stories a day are needed to be told and so much more. You see … the bears on this island have problems, too.

This is a glimpse of the bear lives on Ursidora. Of course you might wonder how do I know so many things about it. Well… just as Marco Polo knew so many things about the Invisible cities, so do I know things about the invisible islands. Because there are more. This is only one of them. I’ll tell you about the other ones another time. Probably. Oh! I forgot something of importance. Every New Moon, all the bears gather in the Spirit clearing, sun bears in the middle, looking like a big fire, the others circling them and pray together for the bears left home, on their native lands and for the humanity to awaken. Until the moment of awakening, Ursidora will exist somewhere in the planetary ocean. You will forgive me if I don’t divulge the location. It is only for the bears’ ears.

The Facts (that led to the story):

There are 8 bear species in the world and their future doesn’t look too bright. Nor does the present, actually. They are haunted for trophies, for their paws, for their meat, for their gall bladder, they are used in the circus, they are showcased in Zoos, they are raised in bile-bear farms. Humans would do anything, would use everything and everyone in order to stay healthy, beautiful, entertained, fulfilled in every aspects of their lives (or at least in several, but the more the better) and, above all, to extend their lives to the maximum possible. We are ignorant, we take many things for granted, we like to think we deserve a lot, if not everything. We consider we deserve treats to ease and/or sweeten our lives because being human is hard enough (at least this is one of our pretty-often-used excuses for many unkind things we do) and, of course because we are the “superior” beings (according to our definition of terms).

I am ignorant in many aspects of life, too, but I am learning, I am trying, I do my best not to let myself drown completely in the sea of ignorance, as I see it as the root of all the suffering in the world, even if it gives one the illusion of happiness. Of the bile bear farms – real houses of horrors – I’ve only heard several weeks ago, even though they exit since 1980, but, knowing human nature, the information didn’t surprise me a lot. A little bit more sadness made its way into my heart, but I am already used to it, so… it’s not a big deal, and it made me realize once more that the shadow of the Middle Ages is still present in today’s world. For the sake of medicine, thousands of bears are imprisoned in tiny little cages, not bigger then coffins and sucked dry of their bile day after day after day for years, in multiple farms in China, Vietnam, Laos, South Korea, Myanmar. The ursodeoxycholic acid, contained by the bear bile, is medically proven to help dissolve gallstones and treat liver disease and even if the scientists have found synthetic alternatives to it, there are some doctors that are still after the “natural thing”. Therefore, bears are still hunted for their bile and, even worse, they are raised in dystopian farms for the same purpose. The farms had become illegal in some of the mentioned countries but people still find methods to elude the law and perpetuate this diabolic practice. The Giant Panda bear is the only one who is exempt from these dreadful farms as his body doesn’t produce the so-much-wanted acid. Lucky Panda!

The caged bear images are horrific, the thought of what they are subjected to is really disturbing. The thousands of medical articles over the internet speaking of the benefits of bear bile products are a disgrace to humanity. The advertising of such products is sickening. The demand of such products around the globe is beyond sad. But there are the others, the ones that make my heart smile, the ones that care for something/someone else but themselves and their own good, the ones that took action and started fighting for the bears, the ones whose souls and thoughts and actions light the planet. And they are winning this hard and long battle. Slowly, but they are winning. We’ll wear the stigma of such horrible actions in our history pages and in our conscience forever but, hopefully, the bears will find the compassion in their hearts and they will be able to forgive us one day.

Sending the caged bears my thoughts infused with love, compassion and good vibes doesn’t help much. So I have joined #TheOnlyCureIsKindness campaign on AnimalAsia.org and decided to help these poor souls trapped in bear bodies in every way I can from distance. It isn’t their fault they are bears. It is their luck. Or the lack of it. I invite all of you, who resonate with the cause, to help a bit. Any little help counts more than one might think.

Thank you for reading!

Note: Money earned by selling this design will be donated to AnimalAsia.org to support them in their fight against bile bear farming.