“Here is someone who, even if she grows to one hundred pounds and stretches more than eight feet long, could still squeeze her boneless body through an opening the size of an orange; an animal whose eight arms are covered with thousands of suckers that taste as well as feel; a mollusk with a beak-like a parrot and venom like a snake and a tongue covered with teeth; a creature who can shape-shift, change colour and squirt ink.”
I’ve been a fan ever since I was asked to think about an animal metaphor – what did I want to be? They have become my totem animal ever since. I often wear octopus jewelry from a fab maker in America called OctopusMe – thanks to the generosity of my husband I have a ring, a necklace and a pair of beautiful tentacle earrings so far.
The octopus holds a complex place in animal symbolism – depending on the sources you follow it can offer you: focus, reason, illusion, potential, diversity, creativity, defence, flexibility, expansion, complexity, intelligence, insatiability, unpredictability…
Now I’m not saying that I take on all that, but I do find it interesting. Wearing my octopus bling for me isn’t just about it looking good, it does remind me that I can be more flexible – and its also a reminder I don’t have eight arms so maybe I should take on less!
Just marvel at how adaptable they are. The octopus has so many options when challenged. Think about it, they can:
- find out more – touch and taste their environment with all eight arms
- blend in – change colour to fit surroundings
- slink away – through the tightest gap imaginable
- create a distraction – squirt ink that obstructs the vision of predators and prey
- fight back – using suckers, beak, teeth and poison.
They can also, if one arm becomes trapped, choose to let it go – just disconnecting the limb, swimming away, and then regrow another one later.
How fantastic would it be if I allowed myself to use a wider range of responses when I was challenged?
- checking out the space around me and the context I am operating in, before diving in
- adapting my perspective when I’m being too fixed in my way of viewing the world
- backing off and moving to the shadows when I am being too dominant and overbearing
- move the focus – maybe not distracting people, but certainly muddying the waters when things become unhelpfully direct
- and standing up for myself and my values at the times when it really matters.
And oh, for the skill of truly being able to let things go, safe in the knowledge that I would repair myself over time! I think for that alone the octopus will always be the creature I aspire to be. I’d be very interested if others had key animals they held as inspirations. What animal do you admire and why?