Op-Ed: “Can I Go Back To The Wild Yet?”

Friends, I am experiencing a full-blown identity crisis.

I have been serving the UCLA community for the last ten years. I did not do it by choice–I was taken from my forest home as a young cub–but I did it with a smile, nonetheless.

I think that the last decade of walking on my hind legs in a snug jersey as I high-fived mom after mom has caused you people to forget that I am actually a bear. I am a fearsome, powerful, and noble bear. I am not designed to cuddle up next to you and take a picture; I was born to roam the woods, guard my territory, and revel in the fear that most living creatures feel in my presence.

I have become a prisoner in my own fur. Every day, I have wandered through audiences big and small, leading cheers and posing for pictures just like I was taught to. After ten years of perfecting my friendly demeanor, I too have all but forgotten that I am a wild beast.

Now, after my years of dedicated service, I am asking you – can I please just go back to the wild?

Don’t get me wrong, I am very appreciative of the experience that UCLA has given me. Most bears never know the joys of leading hundreds of fans in a BRUIN spell-out cheer, traveling the country in a bus, or dancing on the side of a football field without a care in the world. The time has come, though, for me to return to my home.

I long to be free again; to feel the rush of the hunt as I catch a fish with nothing but my own bare claws; to wander through the forest and scratch my back in the aspen groves; to experience the sweet serenity of arising from a deep hibernation just one more time.

You know what they say: you can take a bruin from the woods, but you can’t take the woods from the bruin.

The wild is in me, and it always will be. Let me go back to the woods while I still have some dignity.

Your friend and humble servant,

Joe Bruin