Day 22: The Power Of Totems

Not every day is as inspiring as the last. We can get through resistance, let down our guard in life and start feeling clearly one day, only to have the next be wrought with anxiety. This is the beauty of humanity. No two days are the same.

I am sitting here in bed, worrying over the next blog post, having anxiety about “this thing” that I started. What if I don’t “finish it?” “What if I have lost that inspiration?”

And then… a fart. One of those little bubblers…. pfft, pfft, pfft…. and my dog, who was sound asleep, launches himself off of his furry blanket, stares at the betrayal that is his asshole and looks at me with shock in his eyes as if to say “I have NO IDEA how that happened!”

A split second later I am roaring with laughter. Giggling so hard I have tears rolling down my cheeks and in this moment… pure joy.

This food guzzling, fart excreting, whining, love of a creature is my totem.

What is a totem and why should everyone have one? A totem is an animal or object that represents a particular quality, thought or feeling. For me, my dog is a totem for joy and love. And in this moment, the innocence of laughter.

Sometimes the world gets overwhelming. Sometimes our anxiety takes over and worries abound. The future, the past… we lose sight of the present moment in all its glory. Sometimes we cannot figure out what’s up or down, what we want, what we don’t want, panic sets in and suddenly the world seems a big, dark, scary place. Totems can bring us back. Whenever I look at this dog, pet him, snuggle with him, my heart warms, joy fills my body and I relax. Totems keep us connected to a purity of feeling that is sometimes necessary to get back to a base reality. They are a breath of air when a 1000 pound weight is on our chest. And in that moment, when laughter is present and the body opens and relaxes, inspiration and happiness poke their heads back in the door.

I learned about totems from my friend (and mentor and author and all around badass dude) Mike Kemski (whose challenge started today, so you’ll likely hear a fair bit about him in the next two weeks). He talks about them as touchstones for the empath, or a way to reconnect with self in the face of feeling a whole bunch of shit from other people. A totem that brings happiness can be felt or touched and that feeling comes back and that can be used to identify what is truly your feeling versus that of others around you. He calls people that can feel other people’s emotions an “emotional empath.” We have also talked about cognitive empaths of which I am one. This is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes and understand their motives and actions. This comes up for me because I am so capable of stepping in shoes that I often forget I have my own to walk in. I have a history of giving myself completely over to others without filling my cup and it is a big part of the reason I have isolated myself from others for so long. Having totems helps. It brings me back to me.

A totem can be an animal, an object, a person…. anything really. I highly suggest that people have them. But maybe…. maybe choose one that is a little less…. gassy… ❤ ❤

Image by Fran__ from Pixabay

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