I apologize that it’s been such a long time since I last posted on here. So many things have happened in the past few months, I haven’t really brought myself to find the time, space, or energy to process things that I’ve needed to. I guess no time like the present right?
So life was wonderful at Bear Brook. We were continuing through hitch season. I had the opportunity to work with the forest service and Audubon building bog bridges on a trail and a boardwalk into a bird sanctuary. It was great! There were so many projects we did where I had this immense sense of pride and joy. We did it! We hauled 50 tons of gravel, we built a boardwalk platform, we built a bridge! There were so many moments of pride in the projects we did, but I have so much more pride in the people.
The thing about hitch season that is beautiful is the simplicity. We woke up in tents, put on the same clothes as the day before, and continued doing manual labor until we created a finished product. And in the work and in the people, we all went through so much growth. We grew so much as individuals and with each other.
We already knew that we were a special community, but we didn’t quite understand how special until we lost one of our members to a tragic accident. Loss is hard. It was such a surprise. Reed was out swimming and got taken by a current. We were all pulled from the field and sent back to our base camp, Bear Brook, to spend time together and begin to process what this actually meant.
The next thing I want to talk about is what I feel fortunate for. I could make a list of a million things saying why I am thankful for this community and especially during this time. We were all completely heart broken. Reed was 21 years old and growing so much into the person he wanted to be. He had dreams and ambitions that were cut short by a tragic accident. However, one of the things I always admired about Reed was his determination. He was always trying to find the good things and had the most admirable work ethic.
As we were all together processing this as a community, we were trying to keep this in mind. Reed wouldn’t want this for us, he would want us to keep moving forward as he would. In all of the heartbreak, we found each other and in each other we found love. A pure, deep, and understanding love. We would laugh followed by sobbing. We would be angry followed by immense gratitude. We were all a mess, but one thing was pretty constant; love. Amongst the heartbreak, our hearts were full.
To be honest, I haven’t really had a community like this before. The simplicity allowed intense depth in all of our relationships. I feel so lucky to have 29 other people to call family who love me for who I am. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words what this experience means to me. It is amazing how 10 months can change you. These people, this place, and this work really helped me become a better version of myself. So saying goodbye was incredibly difficult.
On October 28th, we all left Bear Brook. Those are the hardest goodbyes I have ever had to make full of wet faces, long hugs, and many “I Love You”. Saying goodbye to the place, the people, and the community we had made was nearly impossible.
Lucky for me, I didn’t really leave the Bear Brook feeling until a few days ago. My friends Chelsea, Katie, and myself went on a road trip conquering 13 states in 14 days. We had a blast exploring NYC, Niagara Falls, D.C., Outer Banks, Smokys, Nashville, Fort Campbell, Dayton, and Chicago! In the 3,000 mile trip, we were able to meet up with 9 other bear brookers. Now that it is all over, I keep telling myself it’s not goodbye, it is see you later.
I guess the thing I learned the most about was finding the beauty in the struggle. And I think that is a lesson we can all take into our everyday lives. Positivity and love goes a long way. Struggling doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you’re human. When it comes down to it, we are all human. We all have moments of happiness and moments of struggle, but we are all together in this path that we call life. If we choose to live life in fear of the struggle, it will be nearly impossible to feel the depths of love and what it can offer. I encourage you all to find the beauty within your struggles. Whether it be family problems, friend drama, or election results. Find the beauty within the struggle and spread love to that stranger on the street, the relative you haven’t seen in a while, or the flower in the woods. It is a beautiful life we live and if we all choose to spread our light it will surprise us in what can grow.