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Nick Ang

What I learned from Grizzly Man

Grizzly Man, Timothy Treadwell, in the documentary by Werner Herzog Timothy Treadwell, the Grizzly Man. Screenshot from the documentary by Werner Herzog.

Yesterday night I stayed past my bedtime to watch the 1 hour 40 minutes long autobiographical documentary Grizzly Man directed and narrated by Werner Herzog. It’s about a man whose life took a dark turn and became obsessed with grizzly bears in the wilderness of Alaska where he spent 13 summers living amongst them. He eventually died at the paws and teeth of one.

His seeming madness — I wouldn’t sugar coat it, partly because he didn’t — has an admirable quality to it. “I love you, Mr Chocolate,” he would say to one of the wild grizzly bears with his back to the camera, alone in the Alaskan wilderness, five meters from being a potentially violent end.

But I love that he knew what he loved.

For me, the lifelong struggle is to find something that I love doing. A “pain I want to sustain” as Mark Manson puts it. I still haven’t found what it is, and I often wonder if I will before it’s too late.

Our first child is coming. When she comes into our life, loving her and providing for her would probably become the thing that I would love and can’t stop doing. And you know, it’s unsettling to hear myself admit it, but I think that may be enough.

In a bid to capture more tiny, intimate moments that I experience and will experience, before and after her arrival into this world and our lives, I’m loosening the criteria for what I write and publish on this blog. Not that I had any strict rules, to begin with. Anyone who browsed the titles of the nearly 400 posts I have published here would know. Still, loosening even more.

Apart from preparing myself to become a good dad, if I did nothing else, I would write and publish on this blog, whispering into the void and dancing like a weirdo knowing that few are looking and even fewer care. But at least a few do.

The act of turning memories into words and publishing them on the internet is itself an act that helps me become closer to the human world. Similar to Timothy Treadwell, the Grizzly Man, who tried to be with the natural world.


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