THE ILUSTRIOUS MR. SQUIRREL
‘What will it be”, I thought to myself as the dirty white mini-van chugged along down the interstate. Every rustle in the grass, every flutter out of the corner of my eyes made me jump, and my heart pounded. Would it show up? Would I discover something about myself? Would nature accept me?
I was on sojourn. It was my first, and traditionally, or so I was told, this was the time that you sought for your totem animal. I didn’t know that I believed in totem animals, or magic, or anything at all at that time in my life. However, I knew that I trusted the man who was guiding me, and so I tried to surrender to the experience. And funny thing was, as soon as we hit the road, I was overtaken by excitement and anxiety. I was curious to know what mirror nature would hold up to me, and what signs this journey would give. Surely there would be meaning here. I felt like a little kid, going to his first amusement park. You aren’t really sure what your going to experience, but you know it’s gonna be epic!
Within the system that I was experiencing, knowledge was unimportant. A totem animal was not discovered by looking within oneself and intellectually reasoning which animal might or might not represent you accurately. Rather, it was the raw experience of nature itself that you used. Your guide, or teacher, would cry for visions and signs before you left, and then, while out wandering the roads, you committed to paying attention to the universe around you, and treating the events as significant.
The first animal that seemed prominent was the Buzzard. Of course, my teacher said that in Texas, Buzzards showing up near highways isn’t at all unusual, and totem animals are supposed to be animals which behave strangely around you while on sojourn. However, as the trip progressed, literally HUNDREDS of buzzards showed up. It was pretty scary. And a little disheartening. I mean, afterall, everyone wants to be a glamorous animal. You are the Wolf! Or the TIGER. Or the Hawk. Or even the Coyote or Bear. Nobody wants to be buzzard. And, if totem animal is a reflection of your inner self, what does that say about you? I feed on the carcasses of my friends? I was more than a little dissapointed at that point in my journey. But, my teacher assured me that the journey had just begun, and it was possible the Buzzards were only a messenger, though he did begin to try and relate buzzards to my life, and drew a surprising number of positive correlations.
However, I didn’t discover what was eventually decided to be my Totem animal until we reached the big city. We were walking down a path, when suddenly, out a bush, right in front of my, jumped a squirrel! I was surprised and I froze. The squirrel stared directly at me for a long time, then stood up on its hind legs and showed me its white belly. Then it ran out into the street and away. I felt strangely, and wasn’t really paying attention to the world around me. Immediately I began to rationalize my experience of the out of the ordinary. Maybe that squirrel was like college squirrels, acclimatized to people. Maybe it was as startled as I was, which was why it froze. Maybe maybe maybe. And then, my teacher stepped up behind me, cackled and said, “Thats it!”
Since I discovered my totem, I have done alot of processing about it. In reality, for a rodent, it is the most glamorous rodent around. That huge fluffy tail is something that I mirror in my own life quite often with fashion and extravagence. I always want to put on a good show. I also have a very hard time doing two things at once, like a squirrel, who can’t think and run, but pauses at every turn to consider the direction, and the is off like a flash. I am easily startled, close to my family and friend, but rivals with others who are too similar to me, and often get into squabbles with them, like two squirrels chasing each other around a tree trunk. The comparisons go on. The point is, that a totem animal, as I was taught, is supposed to represent an awareness of nature, and a willingness to see yourself in others, and others within yourself. As I was taught, people often have many totem animals, but my primary is squirrel. And, when you think about it, in terms of encountering them, a totem like squirrel or mouse is way more powerful than a totem like tiger. How often do you meet tigers? And if you really WERE like a tiger, wouldn’t that make you kind of an asshole to me around? Just food for thought!