Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems

Title: Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems:More Funny Shit in the Woods from

Author: Brendan Leonard

Completed: March 2023 (Full list of books)

Overview: Last year I was given another of Brendan’s books and really enjoyed it, but never thought to look for any of his other books until a friend mentioned reading this one when we were out on a run. It’s another funny collection of running and adventure stories. Several made me laugh out loud and got me some strange looks when I was reading in public.

His discussion of Obsessive Campfire Adjustment Syndrome was certainly worth a read and reminded me of several people I know… Although other might have thought he was talking about me.


  • Kurt Vonnegut, in a 2003 speech to students at the University of Wisconsin, said, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” This year, I urge you to notice when something is awesome, as it often is, and exclaim or murmur or just make a mental note of it. Isn’t it just goddamn fantastic that you have your health, for example? Or running water, or electricity? Or that you have enough money to actually pay someone else to make you a cup of coffee? Or if you want ice cream, you are at any time in America probably only five or ten minutes away from a place that sells some form
  • People can disagree on things like quality, their friend’s taste in food, or whether or not a movie is good. But no one can argue with enthusiasm, especially when it is over the top. Do you think that climb you just did is the greatest climb ever? Great! If someone tries to tell you it isn’t, who cares? Greatest Rock Climb Ever is not an objective title. Thusly, when you are excited about a climb—or a trail run or a summit view or a bike ride or a sunrise—don’t let anyone bring you down.
  • Of course, since there was kind of a big hole in the outside, I thought maybe I’d get a new pair of shoes before my pal Greg and I did a one-day Rim-to-Rim run in the Grand Canyon last October. I didn’t make time to go shoe shopping, so instead of new shoes, I just brought a couple feet of duct tape in my pack in case something catastrophic happened to them and the sole ripped off or something.
  • I guess, you can count on most shoes. I don’t really have too many problems with running shoes. I’ve never been out on a run and said, “Man, I can’t go on. These shoes are just not high-quality enough.” Usually I get about six or eight miles done, and I’m like, “Man, I’m tired,” or “I should call my friend and go smash the breakfast tacos at Watercourse,” or “I better get back to my phone so I can type in this pithy and witty Facebook status that is bouncing around in my head right now.” It’s really not the shoes that present obstacles to my running.
  • One friend of mine says we peak as bicycle riders at age thirteen, after which you start to get afraid to jump your bike off things. Another friend says thirty is the new thirteen.
  • You’ll enjoy a breakfast of oatmeal and instant coffee before your lung-busting days of walking with a 40-pound backpack on your back. What’s for breakfast the next morning? Certainly not fresh croissants or toasted bagels with cream cheese, with a steaming-hot vanilla latte. No, you’ll enjoy another breakfast of oatmeal and instant coffee. While walking miles and miles of steep terrain all day, you’ll snack on Bars That Kind Of Remind You Of Food And Are Pretty Tasty Until You’ve Eaten Two Every Day For Six Days And Now You’re Fuckin Sick Of Them. Mmmm.
  • “I used to think I was gonna change the world. Now I just let people onto the freeway.” I always loved that line, because I think it says something about what people can do to make other people’s lives better—all those little things that don’t make the evening news.
  • Since Dave doesn’t drive, a lot of his miles are commuting miles. He told me once a few years ago—when he was wearing cutoff pants and skateboard shoes—that he doesn’t wear lycra when he rides because he wants people to see him riding his bike and believe they can do it, that they don’t need to buy a bunch of special gear and clothing to ride a bike.
  • you may have Obsessive Campfire Adjustment Syndrome. OCAS affects one out of every four camping enthusiasts in their lifetime, which means you have a 25 percent chance of developing symptoms. It also means that the next time you go camping in a group of four, three of you will enjoy the campfire, contentedly staring into its embers like cave people, but one of you will not stop messing with the goddamn fire.
  • Fact: Hiking is actually just walking, only on dirt or rocks or other uneven surfaces. Or walking some place where an animal larger than you could possibly show up and kill and eat you.
  • the host asked McGonigal: How does this apply to people who are, for example, choosing between a stressful job and a non-stressful job? She said: One thing we know for certain is that chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort. And so I would say that’s really the best way to make decisions, go after what it is that creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.
  • Now, there is nothing wrong with riding a nice bicycle. But if you can’t enjoy riding a crappy bike, I would go as far as to say that maybe you don’t like bikes.
  • Terror, that’s how. Fear of failure at The Thing. Of sucking, and wasting everyone’s time and your own money, and maybe some plane tickets. Why does Mount Rainier, or your 5.12b project, or the triathlon, or the ultra, work so much better than those other general objectives like “lose some weight,” “get in shape for bikini season,” or “look good for my wedding”? Because unlike the disinterested glances of fellow beachgoers, unlike your own “I’ve-lost-a-couple-pounds-haven’t-I” inspections in the bathroom mirror, unlike your non-judgmental wedding guests, Mount Rainier will crush you.
  • I’m told something called an IT band exists—one of those body parts you don’t even know is there until it decides to ruin your week, kind of like an appendix, but for runners.
  • We’re not so far removed from the last recession to forget that by having a job, you’re living the dream, too. Almost nobody’s getting out of bed in the morning going, “Yay, work!” But we should be saying, “Yay, life!” And work is part of that, whether you clock in to pilot an airplane, a shovel, or a spreadsheet.
  • You just have to go sometimes. Ignore all the little voices in your head that can list a million things a minute that you need to do or would be more comfortable doing, and put on your damn running shoes, or pack your backpack, or get your gear out of the garage and throw it in the car. Maybe it’s not perfectly planned, or you won’t be able to get as far as you would like, but three miles is probably better than no miles, isn’t it?
  • 1.  Don’t argue with people on the internet. 2.  Use your car horn to communicate with other drivers for emergencies, not to communicate your frustration with other things in life. 3.  Pretty much 100 percent of the time, people don’t want to be surprised by photos of male genitals. 4.  Try to be the first to yield the trail when you see a hiker or mountain biker coming… 10.  If national news gets you down, do something that helps locally. 11.  Instead of insulting someone over their opinion, ask a few questions to try to understand how they came to form that opinion.
  • good for you for just trying something new. Maybe you’re wondering if you’re doing it right, or if you have the right clothes or technique, or if you don’t exactly blend in. All of that stuff is OK. Sure, maybe a few of the people you see doing the same thing look more comfortable doing it, or you think they’re way better than you’ll ever be. Well, they probably are more comfortable. But when they look around the gym, or the trail, or the mountain, they see someone who they think is way better than they’ll ever be. And even if they’re the best climber or skier or runner in the immediate vicinity, they are no doubt aware that someone else out there is better than they are. Everyone’s trying to get better at whatever it is they’re doing, no matter how long they’ve been doing it.
  • I’ve had to devise systems to keep me from giving in to my sloth-like instincts. I refuse to own a reclining easy chair because I’ve seen them trap people for hours. I commit to outdoor events beyond my capabilities so I’ll be terrified enough to train for them.
  • I hate running, three to four times a week if I have time. I hated it yesterday for a little over an hour.
  • Anyway, I hate running. But you should totally try it.
  • I have learned the utter uselessness of complaining about things I can’t change—like the fact that during the summer, it’s often hot outside. In the winter, it’s often cold outside. Sometimes when we want to do things outdoors, it’s windy. Or it’s rainy. Or the things we like to do make our feet hurt, or our shoulders. Or we have to carry heavy backpacks to get somewhere to do something. And whining about it does exactly nothing to help.
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