Me And My (Not Quite) Spirit Animal

A lot of people have a “spirit animal”. Usually it’s something majestic like an eagle, or fierce and determined like a lion. Some are serene like the butterfly or grasshopper. There are many different animals people relate to based upon their personality, and some people even look to these animals as guides and inspirations for how to live life.

Well, I don’t have one of those. Although if I did, it would probably be some sort of fish.

Don’t get me wrong, I like animals a lot, and I do feel that we as humans can connect with the animal kingdom in many ways. I’ve just never found an animal that I felt could represent me in quite that same fashion. So no, I don’t have a Spirit Animal.

I have a Spirit Muppet.

You see, I, like pretty much every kid born after 1970 grew up with the Muppets. I started watching “Sesame Street” in the ’70s (when it was the hippest kid’s show out there), I was around for the original airings of “The Muppet Show”, and saw their movies in theaters. Their popularity has gone up and down throughout the years but there has always been a Muppety presence in pop culture and since they were a part of my childhood I have remained a fan. Some of that is pure nostalgia, sure, but I do still enjoy watching the whole fuzzy gang whenever I happen to catch them.

It occurs to me now that I have always had a Spirit Muppet. As I have matured and evolved as a person, my personal Muppet has done the same. I wonder, do Spirit Animals work the same way? It seems to me that a natural progression would be something like: hummingbird-mockingbird-hawk-eagle-owl. That would be sophisticated and cool, so that’s probably not the way it works, but it should be.

As for my own journey, I’m pretty sure my first Spirit Muppet was loveable, furry old Grover. He was the perfect choice as a kid. He’s always up for a new adventure, full of curiosity and imagination, and though he faced many setbacks, Grover is always able to come out the other side stronger and better for the experience. He also gave us kids a taste of what it’s like to work with the general public during all those waiter sketches. A valuable lesson to be sure.

Then as I got older, I hopped around a little, with multiple Muppets showing the way. The Junior High/High School years were pretty much a combo of Floyd Pepper and Gonzo The Great. After all, don’t we all ping-pong between feeling like the coolest person in the room and a total weirdo during that time in our lives?

After school my life took a bit of a different turn than most as I actually tried to find a career in Showbiz. Clearly I sat through one too many viewings of “The Muppet Movie” as a child. Anyway, apart from any local plays I could be in, I found myself spending several years as a stand up comic. Fozzie Bear all the way. I mean, I think I bombed a little less than he did, and had WAY different material but the connection was there.

Onward into the workforce, where we are all pretty much Scooter. Or sometimes Beaker, but that’d be a little rough, so Scooter it is!

Then all the responsibilities of adulthood begin to kick in and one could do worse than to look to Kermit as an example for navigating the way through whatever life throws at you. I’m not as good at it as he is, of course, but it’s nice to have goals.

Now though, I am entering a phase of life where another Muppet character is becoming more and more relatable. I am a middle aged man-not fifty for another year yet, but it’s coming down the pike. I am getting to be a little more set in my ways, I’m a little less likely to put up with other people’s nonsense, and I just feel like I am who I am and I like what I like, and if you don’t like it, well, that doesn’t really affect me in the slightest.

At this point in my life I would have to say that my Spirit Muppet is Oscar The Grouch.

Oscar gets a bad rap, man. I was never a fan as a youngster but I get it now. Sure, he’s a little cantankerous sometimes. He can be difficult to get along with, and he’d often rather just be left alone to just get on with his day than have to go out of his way for someone who’s annoyingly happy. Oscar’s surrounded by his stuff, his pet worm (Smiley rules!), and his Grouch girlfriend* and that’s all he really needs, thank you very much. Oscar is unapologetically Oscar, and that’s freedom, y’all!!!

And yet, that’s all on the outside. Oscar has proven time and again that when he is really needed, he’s there. If one of his neighbors (friends really, but he’d never call them that) truly needs help they can count on him when the chips are down. He’ll complain about it-endlessly-but he’s got your back.

The secret to Oscar is he’s got a heart of gold. It’s buried under a lot of hard rock and coal, but it’s in there. And while I’m not really as bad as all that, I sure do find myself relating more and more to that little green guy as the years go on.

But if the pattern holds and I keep progressing, Oscar won’t be my Spirit Muppet for too long. Sooner or later the kids will grow older and I will retire. My hope is that I will not turn into Statler or Waldorf, but perhaps be more like Uncle Traveling Matt from Fraggle Rock. It would be nice to spend time going on travels and relaying stories of what I have learned and discovered to the younger folks.

Okay, so maybe Muppets aren’t actual spiritual guides, but they do reflect truths about us all. That’s why they are still around. Having just had my birthday I’ve been in a reflective mood and this has been a fun way to get some of those thoughts and feelings out. Thanks for indulging my goofiness. Come back and indulge me in more goofiness next week for another MonDAVE!!!

*It should be noted that I in no way intended to compare my wife to Oscar’s girlfriend Grundgetta. My wife is very sweet and charming. She’s more of a Prairie Dawn type.

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