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Never Give Up

November 17, 2018

Another Way for November 16, 2018

Never Give Up

Videos on YouTube or Facebook range from crazy and hilarious, to tear tugging. A recent viral video of a young bear cub climbing an almost vertical mountain face spells courage and persistence like no other. Some viewers said they almost couldn’t watch.

First we see the mother bear struggling across a snowy precipice, her cub trying to follow and mostly failing. Mama has her own troubles navigating, sliding backwards down the slope for awhile. Finally she reaches an angle that must have been slightly less steep, because once she gets going on it, she endures until she reaches the top.

Most of us as mothers or parents would be frantic up there at the top of the mountain watching our cub struggle to make it; she must be strongly tempted to venture back down. She paces, checking over the edge, and we even see her swing out one paw. Perhaps the bear likely knows from instinct or experience that if she went down to help the cub, she would be helpless, really. She barely made it up herself.

And indeed the young cub, after a long long backward slide even further down, gets back up to where his mother has left some pretty good tracks, and proceeds to conquer that mountain and rejoin his mother. Mama quickly moves on, with the cub trouncing behind. The video was reportedly taken by a drone in some remote Russian mountains. An article in The Atlantic (online) indicated that from the behavior of the bears, scientists are pretty sure the bears were fearful of the drone flying so near. They speculate that the mama bear’s paw swipe was likely at the noisy drone, not for her cub. This revelation made me just plain sad. (Search online for “Little bear slipping down the hill.”)

But a larger theme of “never give up” pulls through the video, reminding me of the unforgettable “Climb Every Mountain,” rousing solo by Mother Superior in the Sound of Music musical. It was the first movie I ever went to see—because our church at the time didn’t permit going to theaters. But the movie was deemed a spiritual experience of sorts and a group of us girls went. Even though the words of the song may be cliché, when you’re facing a mountain in your life, it can certainly be a nudge to keep going, like the cub.

The applications to human life are obvious. Struggles with grief, employment, finding direction for life, or difficult relationships, come to mind. I know a young man struggling with drug addiction, after trying multiple times to go through treatment programs. I would call this the mountain of many in our culture today and around the world, and it is so very difficult and sad. The various pulls of drugs are both mental and physical—in this young man’s case a struggle with bipolar; other mental or physical illnesses may be involved in some addictions. Again I think of that cub, going determinedly for his goal, and wish and pray with all my heart that my friend could get to the top of his difficulty as well—and stay there.

In a different vein, I remember a tough professional mountain I had to climb. In the early 2000’s our organization bit off a huge project, and I was called on to serve as writer for a string of documentaries that aired on national TV. The first one was called Journey Toward Forgiveness. I felt intimidated but wanted to try. While I had written many scripts, books, columns and an assortment of TV and radio spots before, it was a new experience to help research and interview potential documentary participants, rough out a preliminary direction, and then follow up putting a script together out of dozens of video interviews and hundreds of pages of conversation.

Looking up at the mountain, it looked insurmountable. But as with many projects, you put one foot in front of another and keep plugging away and you get there—sometimes with the help and feedback of others. Challenging? Yes. But I wouldn’t have missed that mountain for an easier job.

This reminds me also of the tremendous journeys the various persons in our documentaries were on—such as forgiveness, family survivors after suicide, dealing with mental illness or drug addiction—and their courage in telling those stories. I’ve kept up with a few of those persons on Facebook and am overjoyed that at least the ones on Facebook have not slid back down the mountains they encountered. Their stories changed me also. Amazing courage.


How does the little bear and mama video make you feel?

What mountain(s) are you facing?

I’d love to hear.

Comment here or send your story to .

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Like you, I saw the little bear slipping down the mountain this week. 🙂

    Kudos on persisting with your documentary writing assignments in the early 2000s. Mammoth, like my memoir writing seems to me most days. Baby steps . . . .

    • Baby steps, one foot in front of another … one word after another. I know you’re well past that stage but keep going! You WILL get there. Thanks for commenting, Marian!

  2. There are so many mountains in life. Some we anxiously look forward to, excited about the challenge – and others appear in our paths, unwanted, dreaded, and seemingly insurmountable. I loved reading your post on this. It made me think – not only about the mountains in my own life, but how not all mountains are the same. The mountains (challenges) are different for every person and I think realizing this goes a long way towards our own compassion and understanding.
    Thanks for giving me food for thought this morning!

    • And thanks for your additional wider applications, Trisha. Aiming toward more compassion and understanding is just about always a good thing. Blessings, Trisha!

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