“Bear-meat” or risky masculinity
One look outside the window this morning told me that driving to work is not a good idea. Snowy drifts across roads and sidewalks, more snow coming down, heavy winds. So I took the bus and then walked for 20 minutes to get to the office. The temperature was well below freezing, very strong winds with gusts that made me shiver all over as it leashed at me — my coat and layers didn’t help, I could feel it deep in my bones. It look like the snow was falling sideways, hitting my face and almost blinding me with my eyes tearing up as well. Under each step, I could feel treacherous and icy surfaces so I couldn’t even walk fast. And I loved every minute of it!
As I was walking, steadying myself against the wind and ice, I got to think about Jack London and his stories about the gold rush in Alaska and Yukon in the early XX century. Stories about unforgiving nature and weather, friendships and disasters and tragedies — human and animal kind. Jack London had a phare that he used in his novels and short stories — “bear-meat”. For him, it was a synonym or a description of something that separated old hands from greenhorns. Something — a dangerous experience or daring or risky — done only to prove yourself against the fury of nature or weather or animals or other people. Something unnecessary and avoidable but done anyways — because it simply HAD TO be done. Not doing it would be dishonorable to some idea of manhood.
And as I was walking, I decided to do something just like that. Possibly stupid, definitely needless, probably risky. On Sunday I will go on the long (25 kilometers ) hike in the local wilderness. I have a plan to take a bus to a village deep in the forest and then walk back home. On the forest paths. In the deep snow. Temperature is supposed to be around minus 10C and strong winds are forecasted. There will be more snowfall and there is also a warning of a potential blizzard and white-out conditions for Sunday. No matter. I am very excited about this plan, of course, I will prepare myself well for any event or a possible accident. That urge to do something potentially dangerous but also fun as well, actually makes me giddy and impatient. I want a lot more snow and more wind and more freezing temperatures — just so I can prove something stupid for myself. Cannot wait!