Saturday, February 9, 2013

#7 Bears

My story: When I was a kid, I went to an amusement park with my sweet cousin, Greg. One of the arcade games had those huge teddy bears as prizes, and I wanted one so badly. I had forgotten my “fun-money” so I borrowed a quarter from him for a chance to win one. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I threw the small wooden disk and it landed right on the top of the bottle.  The largest panda bear was about ¾ as big as I was at the time, wrapped with a big red ribbon and was now mine, all mine! This was the morning, and I lugged him around for the remainder of the day and into the night. It was so hot and humid outside, and carrying the bear was an equivalent of wearing a winter coat. It was also probably pretty entertaining to watch me ride the roller coasters and ferris wheels, clinging on to my new stuffed friend. I skipped some of the rides because he wouldn’t fit with me, and stood back and watched as Greg took those rides.

When we got home that night, Greg just started bawling. When we asked him what was wrong, he said that I had stolen the bear, it was rightfully his because it was won with his quarter. After much debate (and, I’m sure, bratty responses from me) my parents decided that he had a point, and made me give it to him. My turn to bawl! I couldn’t believe that my sweet Greg would do this to me, especially after I’d hauled that damned thing around all day.

He apologized several years later, and was forgiven way before that.  Just a few months ago, I received a package from Greg, stuffed to the brim with black and white teddy bears, ceramic bears, even gift cards to Panda Express, as an added hilarious symbol of apology.

The truth: I’m really not that fond of teddy bears anymore, even though these make me smile every time I look at them. My dog eats stuffed animals, so I can’t put them anywhere where she can see them. The old me would have held on to all of them for years because of their sentimental value, the new one won’t. My house is little. My love for Greg is big. That won’t change if these adorable little guys go to someone that will rightfully cuddle them!

My action: I gave the bears to my dear friend Tk, who had lost a favorite stuffed animal the week before. I hope they bring comfort and warmth.

When I was writing this piece I thought so much about the power of apology and forgiveness. I realized that although I had forgiven Greg, I had never acknowledged my own part in that conflict. Had I acted out of love instead of greed at the time, I would have handed Greg the bear the second that I won it. So, my other action was to forgive myself for being a greedy kid and not acknowledging his feelings that day.

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