Going on a bear hunt

As a kid, one of my favourite campfire sing-alongs was “Going on a Bear Hunt.” For the uninitiated out there, it’s a simple enough ditty where the leader sings one line and rest of the group repeats it.

We’re going on a bear hunt. (Repeat)
We’re going to catch a big one. (Repeat)
I’m not scared. (Repeat)
Look at alllllll those stars. (Repeat)

(Now, as an animal lover, I don’t really like the idea of shooting a bear. So for our purposes, let’s say this bear hunt is more like a catch-and-release kind of operation, where we’re looking for a bear cub so we can return him to his mother.)

For each verse, someone picks an obstacle that their band of intrepid bear hunters must find a way to overcome — a tree, pit of vipers or other impediment barring the way forward. For example:

A tree! (Repeat)
Can’t go over it. (Repeat)
Can’t go through it. (Repeat)
Can’t go under it. (Repeat)
Guess we’ll have to go around it. (Repeat)

The song continues indefinitely, as various obstacles are identified and overcome on the way to the bear’s cave. Ogres and quicksand you go around. Rocks and logs you go over. Low-hanging branches and dragon-guarded bridges you go under.

But what happens when you’re confronted with a scorching desert, raging snowstorm or lethal minefield that stretches for miles in every direction? Indeed, sometimes on your journey, you crest a hill and come face to face with an obstacle that leaves you with only one option: sometimes you just have to go through it.

Obstacles come in many shapes and sizes. Ironically, the biggest one I’ve ever faced was so tiny you needed a microscope to see it when I was diagnosed with leukemia at age 27. But whether it’s a break-up, a challenging time at work or a nasty bout with cancer, we all face obstacles in life.

The stories in this collection are about those times. Some are about my experience with cancer, while others hearken back to different moments in my life. Either way, I hope this resource offers some helpful, obstacle-busting ideas for whatever bear hunt you’re on.

More stories from the Overcoming Obstacles Handbook


Lessons learned from leukemia

More life lessons

Cancer reminded me that life is the greatest teacher of all. The following stories share obstacle-busting lessons from some of life’s other awesome and absurd moments — from sleeping in a barn to multiple run-ins with Bill Clinton’s bodyguards to nearly driving a car off a cliff.