“On Extinction” by Nomad, written 10/5/2009
It’s strange how having an extinct theriotype doesn’t seem to have any effect on the experience of my animality. Whenever I think about how I feel during the times I’m in a “raptorish” mood, or during shifts of any kind, it’s always a living animal that comes to my mind, with its quirks, fears, habits… If it weren’t for the books telling me the animal I identify with (the animal I am) doesn’t exist anymore, I would never know it, I would assume it’s living somewhere, just that I have never encountered one before. I try to think this is similar to how a, say, tiger therian who has never seen a tiger in flesh and bone could feel.
I guess that’s one of my main points at considering myself more therian than otherkin, as I see more similarities between my way of experiencing it and those of therians whose theriotype is a living animal. For me, it’s not a memory, a relationship with a totemic or mythical symbol, or a past life coming into my mind. It’s just my current life, and my current identity. I feel the deinonychus alive and breathing because I am it, I’m the animal, and I’m alive and breathing. How could I feel any different?
That said, being extinct does have a significant impact on how I understand the experience. Also, on how I think of the world, or of my own spirituality. I miss my time, the same way some therians miss their animal bodies. I guess you could call it “time dysphoria” if you wish. While I like this life, this time and world, and I love exploring it, there’s always something lacking, I can’t call it “home”. Home is the place that shows itself in some dreams or astral travels, a past from so long ago no one even remembers. And while I’ve found places in this world and time that are closer to it, there’s always something lacking, they’re just imitations.
Not so many years ago I used to think that something big was going to happen, not in the far future but quite soon, that would bring this past into the present, bridging the two worlds I live at, and that would finally unleash my inner animal side. I was already old enough as to realize how unlikely that was, but I couldn’t help but feeling it, like if the air was charged with electricity. How could it NOT happen? After all, if I was a raptor in a human life, it would have to be because of something, right?
Of course, years went by, and nothing happened. I stopped waiting for the world (or myself) to suddenly change. And that anticipation turned into a nostalgic feeling. Nostalgia for a future past that never came to be.
In a way, I still expect the future past to come, not as a magic gate that brings me home, but as, if you allow me, my private version of the paradise. I’m not Christian, but I’d like to be able to believe in that, that after all I’ll end up where I belong. And that would put my mind at rest enough as to really concentrate in this life. Because it’s very easy to just not care. It’s not my time anyways. You see, I can reason and tell myself that it does matter, that I should live the here and now and not care about those fantasies, but at the first opportunity my mind will shrug it off and say “What’s the point?”
If I went for a short concept of how I feel my relation to an extinct species to be, I’d say that I’m its living remains, its spirit remains, as much as the fossils are the physical remains. Like if the species was still living through us raptor people. I’ve read of how some other therians consider themselves a kind of ambassador of their species, talking and doing this for them. Then I wonder, what’s our/my role in this? Am I an ambassador of a bunch of bones? That’s risky too, because you fall again in the trap of not caring. Why should it matter if a species lives or dies? It all comes to bones at some point.
Many animal people like to meet their theriotypes, at a zoo or some other place, and they try to communicate, to create some sort of relationship with the real animal. For me, that’s out of the question, but I tried nevertheless. Back in NY, they had this Deinonychus specimen at the AMNH. I went to visit expecting, what do I know, an epiphany or revelation or something.
I found bones. Yeah, they were “my” bones, but they were bones. The revelation was more along the lines of “Crap, I’m really dead!”. The extinctness of the species was much more clear there. That’s all that remains, a bunch of bones and a bunch of loonies like me, believing they are somehow those animals. And it’s pathetic, and sad, thinking that a great species can end up like that. I wanted to yell it out to everyone else in the museum, I wanted to grab them and shake them so they could realize the absolute, huge, and senseless loss that room was all about.
Now, I keep walking forward, because what else can you do? And because, if I think hard enough that I care, it will somehow become true. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all emo about my life, I try to enjoy it and visit places and learn, I’m curious by nature. I can laugh and share stories. The thing is that I have a hard time getting involved, feeling empathy. I feel I’m just passing by, crossing the desert and stopping for short times at the oasis, but not settling there.