Before sunrise I was walking a stretch of beach outside of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County, just starting to bore myself with thinking about how unfathomably powerful and mysterious the ocean is, when I came across my spirit-animal, Beached Sea Otter. In fact, it was a "real" beached sea otter, and I immediately panicked trying to grapple with what-it-is-exactly that generally moral people who once worked at a rainforest-themed restaurant are supposed to do in situations like this. Interestingly enough, my spirit animal happens to be a beached sea otter, but he really doesn't usually have at his disposal the kind of faculties necessary to compel me to do or learn much of majestic-anything in morbid ethical scenarios. He is in bad shape. Some kind of accident forever ago.
I proceeded to ask otter (when making reference to a spirit animal, most patented Alchemical Healing books-on-tape will make sure to clarify that one is never to place an article, such as "the" or "an", in front of it's man-name) why he'd never shown up in any of my Shamanic episodes at the MJP school.
He replied by grunting and nimbly twitching in a way I wouldn't have assumed gigantic sea-mammals can.
I never saw his face and couldn't really make out much of what he was saying, as his back was turned to me, but I got the distinct impression he had no idea who I was. Of tantamount importance to him at the time, I suppose, were the Camp Host's two dogs which were presently going absolutely ape-shit all around him. Bear in mind this is all quite beautiful-looking by virtue of it now being full-on sunrise complete with ham-fisted hues of purple and orange. Old Man was always diligent in impressing on me how sunrises and sunsets are objective proof of God's superiority as an artist.
"What message do you think God is trying to express through sunsets, Old Man?"
"He's saying, 'I AM THE SAME TODAY, YESTERDAY, AND FOREVER ! I AM UNCHANGING! HAVE A GOOD NIGHT!"
"That doesn't sound much like an artist."
"He is God first, artist second."
"I thought he was Jesus second."
"No, he's Jesus and God first. They count as one."
"So, you're saying his scope as a sunset artist is limited by people's expectations of him as God."
"God isn't limited by anything." Old Man said driving like a maniac on the unseasonably deserted roadway.
"Then God should get some outside perspective."
"God doesn't need anyone's help. Who needs help is someone who doesn't like sunsets just the way God made-"
Old Man slammed on the brakes and we hit a sea otter that just came out of absolutely nowhere.
"I AM AS BEAUTIFUL AS A SUNSET! THE DIFFERENCES ARE ARBITRARY AT BEST!," wailed the sea otter (non-S.A. article permitted).
Although what the sea otter had to say was actually quite profound, talking animals are sure-fire proof of demonic possession and Old Man sped off as I cast spells out the back window.
Then fifteen years passed and here I was with the answer to my question about where he'd been.
"Those aren't my dogs!", I called out, hoping he'd understand.
Feebly he said a few words in English I couldn't hear.
I started to make my way up to Camp Host's RV thinking that I might ask him to call Spirit Animal Control for the otter, and maybe his stupid dogs. The otters’ refrain grew louder and louder as I hurried up the embankment.
"No, no," Camp Host said, the smell of a frozen pizza cooking at 7:30 in the morning wafting into the cold, sea air. "He's at the mercy of the ocean now," he said wistfully. "The ocean is a powerful and mysterious thing."
It turned out my Spirit Animal was calling out "Kill me! Your father had to kill me and now it's your turn! Become the murderer! Become the father!" but I wouldn't know that until much later and it would be a long time before anyone would walk by there again.