** The following post is a submission I did for the second edition of the Beartaria Times Magazine **
In the spring of 2016 I had never written a book, never planted anything, wasn't active in the bear community, was single, and it had been half a decade since I'd widely shared any of the songs I was so fond of writing.
In the spring of 2022 I've written 6 books, published 4 of them (so far), published a memoir my great grandfather had written, written a lot of blog posts, created a bunch of video content including a live action book trailer, am learning a lot in my second growing season, have a bunch of friends in the bear community, am recently married, and am writing songs again with one of the most talented musicians I've ever come across.
So I guess you could say I've been... busy.
And being busy is great, for reasons I will discuss. But one of the things I've wanted to work on this year is taking more time to stop and smell the roses. In doing so I've been able to reflect on the astounding number of syncs which took place in order for me to get here.
For example, consider a boring Monday in April 2016 when I'd decided it might be cool to write a book. That day I wrote down a bunch of ideas, scribbled them all out, and decided I wasn't a writer. However, a week later the opening scene of what became my first in a now five-book series randomly flashed in my brain and I got to furiously typing out whatever it would develop into.
Based on those books I built a website and started blog posting. Then one of the characters sang a song in the books so I thought, "why not write an actual version of this song?" Since I loved making music, I did that.
By 2019 I had published 3 books and was writing my fourth. The morality of the bear community also had such a strong influence on me that by then I'd fully accepted I was on the Christian path. This led me to being ready to allow the right woman into my life, whenever she might present herself. And in January 2019, she did.
It was also at that time my mom told me about a memoir her father's father had written. It wasn't long and was photocopied from originally being handwritten on pieces of paper. This was an incredible thing to me because I never met my great grandfather whose name I share, but also because I had found out he had taught himself how to write. So, having published three books at this point, I typed up his memoir and got book copies made for my grandfather and family to have.
Time passed and people here and there started to notice what I was doing. One of my best friends who was really into YouTube at the time eventually asked if I would make funny and/or creative songs for him. So I said yes and we worked on a few things, including a PewDiePie diss track as part of a contest submission.
Then came the shanty.
Another contest, this time for a video game, led him to ask me to make a sea shanty about a specific nation in the game. Once he gave me the background of the nation, I got to work and the resulting song made it sound like an exciting place. This led me to thinking, "why not write a shanty for my books?" So again, I did.
At this point we were in the beginning of 2021 and I was working on my fifth fiction book, the final in the series. I had been a subscribed-but-unbearified bear for many years and still wasn't active at all in the community, outside of comment sections. That all changed after I posted the sea shanty for my books on Instagram.
That post was what led OliveTreeBear to reach out to me about writing lyrics for him and to potentially put together a sea shanty about the bears. I knew nothing of the guy at the time, but it sounded fun so I agreed.
From there OliveTree sent me more incredible songs to write lyrics for and I continuously obliged until we built up a library of about 20 songs. Over the course of this time, I finally became bearified as OldWiseBear and started getting to know more bears. Getting involved also inspired me to try my hand at gardening, so I planted a few basil seeds and some thyme. Nothing grew beyond budding, but I learned from my mistakes.
By the fall of 2021 I became a married man and OliveTree released the Beartaria Sea Shanty to a humbling response, including from the Biggest Bear himself. The release of subsequent songs saw way more bears getting involved. At one point the syncs got so wild that I found out one of the bears contributing, Telecasterbear, had been friends with my dad for 20 years through their making guitar pedals. My dad even hilariously asked me at one point, "how do I become a bear?"
So let's take stock here for a second:
If I had quit writing the first day as I'd intended, I'd have never started writing books. Without books I wouldn't have built a website and created content. The content I didn't create wouldn't have led to the music I made, which might not have facilitated my collaborations with my best friend.
And even if it had, if I hadn't said, "yes," to my friend's requests, or if I'd have thought myself too busy, I wouldn't have written a video game sea shanty. Without a video game sea shanty I wouldn't have made a book sea shanty, and without that OliveTreeBear likely wouldn't have reached out to me.
With the example set by people like the bears, it was a choice to follow in the footsteps of y'all's creativity and morality. Without making that choice, my now-wife might have just been a person I'd met at the dog park. I also might not have had the courage to write the way I do today, to start gardening, or to have become a part of a community anywhere near as valuable as this one.
That's an incredible amount of things which had to come together in order to get to this point in spring 2022. And the lesson I've taken from it is this:
Always be a "yes" creator.
The same idea as being a, "yes man," this means continuing to identify the opportunities God presents and to act on them. Because Rome wasn't built in a day, but neither is a library, a tracklist, a portfolio, a garden, a career, or a family. It's the little opportunities we say, "yes," to every day that get us there - the little challenges we accept.
As I stop and smell the roses today, I'm eternally grateful to the bears for pointing me to new challenges.