You know that thing you have, a trinket, a ring, maybe your special boss glasses or your Sunday pajamas which lock the world outside and don’t allow it into your chill zone? We all have, have had or will have the objects we tie ourselves to in a way. It is not attachment to the material exactly, where we shun the spiritual in favor of owning things and objects. It’s very different.
It’s not about the item at all – that old tiny umbrella from a drink during a perfect night at Barbados 10 years ago, a crumpled candy wrapper always tucked away somewhere in your wallet, a photograph of someone, red lipstick for important events…. The object doesn’t need to have any real commercial value. Their value is very much akin to that of a totem. You don’t need a ten foot pole sticking out from a field somewhere to worship, to latch onto an idea, ideal, dream, alter ego (which we mediated on yesterday) or a philosophy… We make our own totems today from everyday objects according to a personal internal logic and quest. There is a moment you latch onto them and, in time, they begin to function as a rest stop and a vine that connects deeply right into something that’s important to you. It allows you to cut the crap of your limiting internal chattiness and tune into something valuable far faster than if you try to think yourself to that place. Love your brain, but understand it has pit falls, traps and default settings limitations that we need to learn how to bypass to thrive.
Every time you go back to your totem to seek comfort, guidance, reminisce, straighten out your path and be reminded of your why, the neural network strengthens the pathway and the totem becomes more valuable. This is not idolatry but a psychological tether to the center of a value structure, an opportunity to adopt certain traits on demand. We embed meaning and quasi-magical powers into objects and they serve as a conduit to what is already there. No shirt in the world will make you confident on its own but if your beliefs about who you are, what you’re aiming at and are capable off shift dramatically as you wear your totem, by all means do so. Oscar Wile said: “”Give a man a mask and he will show his true face”. A totem is a gateway and a prop, a mask allowing you to be more of yourself, a release from feeling judged or watched, because attaching some traits to a totemic object makes you once removed from yourself and therefore provides emotional protection as you become sort of a superhero doppelganger of yourself, as well as a weathercock, showing the direction your growth and essential values are pointing. Our personal totems are also catalysts of change allowing us to get out of our own way, a nifty trick to adopt a role or be grounded in seconds.
Revisit your totems as often as you can. Fortify the emotional bond to them, let them keep reminding you of the things that the word will sometimes beat out of us by the sheer volume of its ever attention demanding worldness. You don’t need a leotard to be a superhero in your own right, but a totem to draw the power out won’t hurt. There is no magic in the object, it’s all you and what you believe of yourself.