Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Self-Discovery Through Spirit Zoology

Self-Discovery Through Spirit Zoology
WTF is up with Spirit Animals?
I was talking with my dad on the phone yesterday. He was helping me pick out which DVD to watch for MLK day. Father/daughter movie time is kind of an old tradition with us that is getting a revival now that I’m out of my hideously evil teenage years. Anyway, I was sifting through my DVDs at the same time he was sifting through his and we only found two overlaps:  Fight Club and Kill Bill Volume 1. This raised two obvious questions:  why the hell did he have either of those movies and more importantly, why the hell did I? Anyway, I let him decide since I didn’t care. He picked Fight Club to avoid the creepy father/daughter = husband/wife dynamic that was in Kill Bill.

I'm glad we didn't watch Kill Bill because I would have had to make a joke to my conservative Asian father about this scene being a thinly veiled "gang bang" motif .

Most of the movie was spent joking about the movies and being snarky. Kinda like what I do on my Tweet hashtag: #TweetingThroughABadMovieOnFX but without the tweeting, bad television censorship, and my audience was just my father instead of my twitter followers. Anyway, we got to the part of the movie where we find out Ed Norton’s spirit animal in his spirit cave is a penguin who tells him to slide. This is the weirdest part of the movie for me--even the shooting himself in the mouth to kill Brad Pitt thing made at least some sense in comparison. Seriously, what was with the ice cave, why a penguin, and what was he supposed to do with the instruction of “slide”? Disclaimer for any Fight Club Fanboys who have stumbled across this blog, these are rhetorical questions of course; I don’t really care what interpretations you came up with unless it’s something really crazy and really out there, in which case go ahead and post it in the comments section.

This sparked a whole discussion of what spirit animals we thought people had. My mother, we agreed upon as being a tigress, my sister is a bird of some kind (he said peacock, I said goose), and then we came to me. Without hesitation or any time to think, he answered, “rattlesnake” as though he’d been waiting his whole life to tell me what my spirit animal was, needing only to be asked at long last.

Let me tell you a little something about my relationship with my father and I’m sure this will make a lot of sense to my readers since many of you probably have similar relationships with your respective fathers. I’m the younger of two daughters, I’m tiny and adorable still and in his mind I’m sure I’m still five or six when I was even tinier and even more adorable, I’m the fuzzy-freaking-pink King Kong of daddy’s girls damnit! He’s not supposed to call me a rattlesnake!

Are you seeing this picture I threw together? Fucking computers, man--you an think something and then make a visual for it just like that. Clearly I have too much time on my hands though.
By the way, I thought my spirit animal was a house cat in a spirit cave that looked a lot like a library but with comfy chairs everywhere to nap on.

I believe I told him his spirit animal was one of those monkeys that gets wasted-drunk on abandoned, partially finished umbrella drinks at tropical resorts. And now you can't claim you've never heard of this phenomenon because I'm betting you clicked the video first. We ended up skipping the rest of the movie when I told him I had to take care of some things. I called him back today to apologize for taking his comment so obviously wrong, and give him a chance to agree with my house cat theory, but he was pretty set on me being a rattlesnake. He had explanations, and with a little distance from the initial shock of my father calling his beloved little girl a rattlesnake, I was able to see what he meant about me being something of a loner, a little prickly at times, loving to lay out in the sun, not dealing well with cold weather, and having a vicious bite that people do get ample warning for but don’t always heed. He also told me again about Southern California and what it looked like before it was settled. Apparently my beloved native Orange County was actually just a rattlesnake-filled desert before man changed it. He said he always believed I was one of those snakes who so loved the area that I reincarnated there again and again until I reached the SoCal girl I am (we’re Buddhist from a long line of Buddhists, so talk of reincarnation isn’t just a flight of fancy with us, and before you go getting all judgmental about it, think about your ownreligions eccentricities from my point of view).

I felt a little better about the whole thing after that.

This whole thing made me wonder how many people are rolling happily through life with absolutely no idea how the people they love really see them. It was shocking to me that the way I saw myself and the way my father saw me were so ridiculously different. The thing is, I may have even known on some level this was true to a hyper specific degree.

“She’s a rattlesnake, isn’t she?” Gieo leaned over, wrapped an arm around Fiona’s shoulder, and gave her a soft kiss on the cheek.

That’s a line from The Gunfighter and The Gear-Head. I wrote it a year ago. Now, I’ve always more identified with Gieo than Fiona, but there must be some part of myself in all my protagonists, and it made me wonder if maybe I didn’t think of myself as a rattlesnake long before my father told me he thought I was one.

They're kinda pretty in a certain way and look, this one is doing yoga just like me!
So I’m going to encourage everyone to write down what they think their spirit animal is, and then go find someone who knows and loves you and ask them what they think you are. If you have a really cool one, post what you thought and what your loved one said in the comment section. It was pretty thrilling to find out that my father thinks of me as more dangerous than I think of myself.

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