A few days ago Paul spied our neighbor’s fox sauntering through the orchard. I refer to the animal as my neighbor’s as he has taken up residence on their property for quite some time, complete with, I am told, sunning himself on the roof of their barn. He is exquisite: Robust, a coat-like flame, bushy tail. He turned to look at Paul for some moments rather brazenly before trotting slowly off toward “home.”
“That’s your spirit animal,” I piped up when he shared the story upon entering the house. “Your totem.”
“What’s that mean?” he asked in the tone of voice he uses when he doesn’t want to know what something means.
“Well,” I exhaled slowly, preparing to break the bad news. “Perhaps you’d better sit down.”
Paul just stared.
“It means you’re about to undergo a period of change,” I explained. “Difficult change. Pretty tough times ahead.”
“It can’t be worse than you spilling coffee on my keyboard,” he replied. “And besides, that fox lives just down the street, it’s not like it’s completely out of the blue.”
“Well, have you ever seen it before?”
Paul shrugged and turned on the television in search of football. “Maybe. I’ve seen red foxes in the field before. What about horses? Shouldn’t they be my totem? I mean, we’re covered in horses.”
“Totally depends,” I began with conviction. “If you happen to see them in the wild, they can represent freedom and overcoming obstacles.”
“Well then,” he countered with smug satisfaction. “I’m covered. If the fox is warning me tough changes are ahead, all your horses are here to help me overcome them.”
“Not so fast,” I argued. “First of all, they’re my spirit animals and not yours and second of all, they stay in at night which means their ability to help you overcome the tough changes ahead are somewhat limited by constraints.”
“Fine,” Paul said as a way of dismissing the topic at hand. “Keep your stupid spirit animals. I’ll see your horses and raise you two disobedient dogs, four cats on the sofa and a opossum in the tool shed.”
“It doesn’t work like that.”
“Oh, yes it does,” said Paul, taking the remote and raising the volume, effectively drowning me out. “Look — big changes already occurring!”