Sheila Sybrant

Of all the trendy items of late, the one that I find the oddest is the sloth.

It seems odd to me that what is trending is an animal that is characterized by laziness and, well, slothfulness.

I am obviously missing something because, based on commercialism, the sloth is an endearing critter. In the run-up to the holidays and since then, I have found a plethora of clothing and toys featuring this mammal. Want a slingshot that shoots tiny sloths? No problem.

Want a sloth that pops ping-pong-sized balls out of its mouth? It’s yours for a mere sawbuck or less. Need something to fill that empty corner in the kids’ room? How about a “ginormous” stuffed sloth?

Apparently, sloth merchandise moves way faster than the animals it features.

Despite the preponderance of these arboreal mammals in stores, this trend, like so many others, probably would have gone under my radar if not for my sister’s niece. I met her for the first time last November — and she told me that the sloth is her spirit animal.

Her spirit animal? I had never really heard the term but quickly gathered that it is an animal whose characteristics embody your spirit, your essence. Research later confirmed this, along with the fact that spirit animals are part of certain cultures that also believe these animals guide and protect their human embodiments.

One of life’s peculiarities is that once you hear something that you seemingly had never heard before, you suddenly start hearing it all the time. It could be a vocabulary word, or it could be a reference to a historical event, movie or political figure.

And so it has been with me and spirit animals. Suddenly, it seems, lots of stores are selling not only sloth items but also spirit animal clothing.

And just recently in the comic strip “Baby Blues,” the young boy named Hammie chose the stinkbug as his spirit animal — a choice with which his older sister heartily agreed.

I decided that if everyone else is having a spirit animal, maybe I should, too. The problem is that there are way too many choices. Did you know that there are over one million species in the world? And those are just the ones that we know about.

Clearly, I’m not going to be able to pinpoint my spirit animal easily.

Perhaps, though, in this day and age, it might be more appropriate for people to have spirit merchandise. Instead of having an animal that embodies your spirit, you could have a commercial product that captures your essence. For example, a lazy person can have a bed as her spirit merchandise.

Technology would lend itself particularly well to the concept of spirit merchandise. In many ways, I think that technology drains the spirit out of our lives, but it does have definitive, powerful characteristics.

For example, a manager who is not a team player can be a self-driving car. A person who talks and talks and won’t let a person get a word in edgewise can be a cell phone. The organized party planner can be the smartwatch. And a know-it-all can be one of those virtual assistants like Alexa.

Or we can have spirit food. There’s where I can make a tasteful decision. I’d like to think that my spirit food is tri-colored peppers — colorful, a little sweet and a little tangy.

All of this makes a person wonder, though: Do animals have spirit people?

And perhaps the greater question is this: Are you the type of person that your pets would choose as their spirit person?

Readers may contact Sheila at svsybrant@gmail.com or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.

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