Q: What would your animal totem be?
a natural object or animal believed by a particular society to have spiritual significance and adopted by it as an emblem.
(Thanks, the Oxford English Dictionary Online!)
I’m not sure about spiritual significance, but I can tell you that I have a bit of a thing about sloths. Three-toed or two-toed, brown-throated or pale-throated, I love ‘em all, and if you read my short piece “The Cure for Cancer”, you’ll notice that the slow-moving, moss-covered bradypus makes an appearance right there amongst the foliage, brushing up against the eponymous mushroom itself.
A couple of years ago, when I released my first few solo pieces of music into the world (spoiler: I’m not very good), I chose a cartoon picture of a sloth as the track’s ‘album art’. When I should be writing but I begin to doodle instead, it’s a sloth I draw. And, when I worked in Peru, for a few short minutes I was elated to finally see one in the flesh; a disappointingly shapeless brown blob at the top of a distant tree.
I don’t know what it is about them. I love animals in general, and can barely fall asleep without the soothing tones of a nature documentary somewhere in the background. Learning about the natural world is bad ass, and I suppose I could have chosen any animal to rub up against the cure for cancer in my story. But I didn’t.
I chose a sloth. And maybe that’s enough to make it my totem.
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s story “The Cure for Cancer” will be published on Friday, 1 December 2017.
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