Until today (as regular readers will recall), my spirit animal was totally that bear found wandering around downtown Juneau last summer with his head in an empty jar of cookies.
The errant bear still holds a place in my heart, but he's had to move over to make room for my new spirit animal: this almost painfully ADORBS long-haired sloth found clinging to a highway barrier in Quevedo, Ecuador.
First, you can see from the puddle around his (?) little tush that he has soiled himself, poor guy--which is a common response to fear and anxiety. While I generally maintain decent control over my excretory systems, it's anyone's guess when those could fail, as I often feel they might.
Second, he's faking a smile. He's clearly totally traumatized, but is attempting to put his best face forward for the cameras. This is something I do every day! Although not often photographed (except selfies), both my work and personal life require me to don a mask of calm and normalcy that belies the profound terror and disorientation lurking just beneath the surface.
Third, my unassailable sources tell me these "residents of the jungles of Central and South America are known for being slow-moving," and come down from the trees about once a week to take a crap. I got up to like 5.5 on the treadmill yesterday, which was pretty fast for me--but I definitely relate to the instinct not to move one muscle until absolutely forced to, for biological reasons. And somehow, I am netting a two pound weight gain since starting my three-day treadmill habit. How can this be!?
Fourth, this little guy is risk averse, as am I. I'm not prone to just running out into traffic, especially when I know I can't run fast. No. If I get stuck on a highway median, I'm going to find the nearest pole and cling to it for dear life until help arrives. Even after help arrives, I'm not letting go until I've been administered a tranquilizer dart and guaranteed safe return to my natural habitat.
Fifth--and who knew this?--sloths "make a good habitat for other organisms, and a single sloth may be home to moths, beetles, cockroaches, ciliates, fungi, and algae." While I can't boast hosting anything close to that menagerie, my kids gave me head lice two summers ago, and they thrived nicely. So there's that.
Finally--and here's something the sloth shares in common with my original spirit animal--this guy is covered in hair from head to toe. Truly if I did not make significant efforts toward depilation, I would be indistinguishable from this sloth. The fact that all my hair is dark brown and I bite my nails would be the only way you could tell us apart.
Long live this sweet, adorable, Ecuadorian sloth--my new spirit animal!