Link-apalooza #11: On Spirit Animals

 Horses: Getty Images

Horses: Getty Images

The other day I was listening to a podcast and, for some reason, I started thinking about Spirit Animals. I have no idea why, really. I mean, I’m pretty okay with animals; I generally like them and all. Yes, the more I think about it, I would definitely classify myself as pro-animal. And as far as spirits go, I’m pretty ambivalent. I have never taken a strong stance for or against. But, I can’t put my finger on why this particular podcast brought the Spirit Animal concept to mind. It’s not something I often think about. However, it just jumped right into my brain, like Bennett diving headlong into any full-size human he comes across who happens to be seated in an accessible position. I looked away for a second, and boom, there it was.

Urbandictionary.com, my number one reference for everything, defines Spirit Animal as follows:

In pagan religions and systems, a spirit animal or totem is meant to be a representation of the traits and skills that you are supposed to learn or have. Online, saying something or someone is your spirit animal is a statement that said person or thing is a representation of you or what you want to be.

As you’ll see, I’m thinking the second part of that definition is most applicable here. 

But before we get to the big reveal, the link to the podcast that inspired my spirit, there is one other thing that is tangentially related and I wanted to hash out here. I’m reading this book called Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola. Ms. Hepola is the personal essays editor at Salon magazine and I actually got a rejection email from her a few months ago for an essay I submitted. So, I feel like we’re pretty close friends now. Her book is great; it’s one of those rather macabre memoir types to which I am particularly drawn for some reason. Actually, I think I know the reason: jealousy. I know that sounds weird because almost all such memoirs, the really interesting and engrossing ones at least, follow a roughly similar arc—author has terrible experience, character flaw, addition, vice, loss, or what have you; struggles and hits rock bottom; pulls him/herself up to some level of functionality; and writes a really interesting story, rich in detail and emotion, about his/her experience. I’m not saying I want to suffer like that for the sake of having something to write about, but is there some sort of workaround we can arrange?

And while the main topic of Blackout, alcoholism, doesn’t really resonate with me, one line in particular kind of struck a chord. Detailing her level of withdrawal from social situations during her early sobriety she said:

I was not great company, and so I retreated into my apartment. I turned down dinner parties. I excused myself from work events. I listened to podcast interviews, the texture of conversation without the emotional risk. The voices of Terry Gross and Marc Maron filled my apartment so often my neighbors must have thought they were my best friends.

Huh. The good news is: I only listen to Marc Maron and Terry Gross with my earbuds in while I’m at the gym or shopping or in other situations where people are around. That’s much better than listening to them at home, right?

Anyway, speaking of podcasts…

Chris Hayes on WTF Pod with Marc Maron

Yes, I found out that Chris Hayes is indeed my Spirit Animal. We really should hang out. I don’t even watch his show, because I can’t do news on TV, but this interview was enough to seal it for me. The next time Will and Kate are in town, I'm going to invite Chris and his family over so we can all just chill out, maybe read some poetry, eat some finger foods, listen to some podcast interviews, you know, just whatever.

While I was on the Spirit Animal kick, I took a minute to determine Jacob and Bennett’s Spirit Animals as well. It’s pretty obvious, really. Jacob is clearly the Parrot and Bennett is without a doubt the Magpie. I found these definitions on some website that sells Spirit Animal-related stuff. It seemed like a pretty legit source. 

Parrot - Playfulness, appropriate caution, joy in life. Parrot people tend to be thoughtful, intelligent, and often appear as shy, though are generally comfortable and vivacious around people they are close to. They are good communicators, often eccentric, vividly expressive and individual
Magpie - Expressive, Perceptive, Flamboyant. Magpie people tend to be creative, curious, true to their natures, gregarious, and energetic. They are free spirits who enjoy being in the thick of things and as such, tend to get a reputation for the dramatic.

 And there you have it. I’m glad we had this talk.

Jacob’s Lyrical Corner

A little bonus feature this week, building off of last week’s post. Can anyone guess what song Jacob was listening to based on these questions he asked?

“Why is the rain falling from the stars?”

“Why does he need to get waked up? Is he sleeping or something?”

This one is really too easy. No prizes for getting this one right, just a tiny sense of accomplishment.