Reflection Title: The Lion and The Raccoon!
Book – Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Introducing an instant classic - master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.
Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin's son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of a giant, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman's deft and witty prose emerge the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
I had an epiphany midway through this book that I must share with you all.
You’ve heard me mention multiple times throughout this journey that my spirit animal is a lion. For my entire life, I’ve been obsessed with Lions. I’ve mentioned it multiple times throughout this journey the role that Lions have played throughout Emilia and my story. From her first stuffed animal we got her, to the safari photo of a lion in her NICU room directly facing her isolate, to her code word we used to access the NICU, to the mural on her nursery wall, to the book cover for I Can’t Imagine, to learning I was tracking her in a Lion Tracker’s Guide to Life, to all the books about Africa we’ve read along the way, etc. You get the point…I love lions.
Everything about lions captivates me. They are beautiful, strong, majestic, powerful, and command the attention of the world around them. I’ve been calling lions my spirit animal since I first saw the movie The Lion King back when it came out when I was in the 3rd grade. However, about halfway through Norse Mythology I learned a startling fact that shook me to my core. I discovered that Lions are not my spirit animal after all.
As I was listening to stories about all the Norse Gods, one stood out in a big way…Loki. To me, Loki is the best character of all the Norse Gods. He is mischievous, entertaining, playful, loves to use his intellect, is a thinker, a plotter, isn’t afraid to get into a little bit of trouble, and keeps the world interesting and everyone on their toes. Sure, he does stupid stuff, but who cares.
I had to fight the urge to say it out loud, but I like Loki. Seriously, I was listening to these stories and telling myself, stop liking Loki! I kept telling myself that he is a troublemaker and the reason the gods always found themselves in tight situations in the first place. We aren’t supposed to like him, but the truth is that I can’t help myself. I’m team Loki all the way. There is a reason for this, because Loki reminds me of myself. I’m the idiot that gets everyone into sticky situations and I have been my entire life. I’m mischievous, playful, love to think, love to strategize, and I love to do stupid things just to try them and see what happens. This is how I’ve always been, I’m a lovable troublemaker, just like Loki, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Loki reminded me of my other spirit animal, one that I rarely mention and never have throughout this journey, and that spirit animal is none other than a raccoon. That’s right, my other spirit animal is a Raccoon. People always chuckle at me when I say this, but I’m dead serious. I would tell them that one of my spirit animals is a Lion, and they would nod in approval. I would then say my other spirit animal is a raccoon, and they would laugh and say you can’t be serious?
I love raccoons because they crack me up. They are hilarious, brilliant, and mischievous. They make their own fun, walk their own path, and do what they want along the way. Sure, they can be a bit standoffish and skittish sometimes, but I’m happy to look past their shortcomings because they are endlessly entertaining.
Here’s the truth I just discovered; I don’t have 2 spirit animals…I only have one.
While I will always love lions, and that will never change; the truth is that I’m a raccoon. I was always a little ashamed to admit that I see more of myself in the likes of Loki and a raccoon than I do in that of a Lion or a Thor. But I’m not anymore, I’m not a lion….Thor is a Lion, and Emilia is the lion of this family. I am a raccoon and I’m more than okay with that.
I’m happy to once and for all shed my Lion skin and let it fall to the rightful owner in this family in Emilia. I’ll forever be fascinated to chase my little lioness around as I marvel at her strength, courage, and power because I don’t have that in me. While I may not be a lion, that doesn’t mean that I’m not great in my own ways and it is time to embrace my playful, curious, and mischievous self.
It may have taken me 362 reflections to figure this one out, but I’m glad I did. The lion and the raccoon are an unlikely pairing, but we’ve produced magic together thus far and have no plans of stopping anytime soon.
Don’t be afraid to be yourself and share that with the world.
Question: What is your spirit animal?
What is The Year of Magical Learning? - An Introduction
YOML Podcast Discussion - Coming Soon
YOML Bookstore - Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman