Eight Arms for Freedom

Published on April 13th

The last year has been a busy and, recently, a very difficult one as my husband and I dealt with a deeply personal loss, but as I thought about how I could get back into posting here on my blog, I was inspired by the story of an octopus (of course) named Inky who recently made his grand escape from an aquarium in New Zealand. Inky slipped out of his tank after it was inadvertently left ajar after some maintenance, presumably waving a watery farewell to his tank-mate who remained, and hauled himself across the floor to a drain. Lucky for Inky, the drain let out into the ocean.

An escaped cephalopod might be a bit of a strange metaphor to bring to the changing tides of our lives, particularly since Inky has left his safe little tank with no predators, consistent feedings, and free veterinary care for a life on his own out in the wild oceans where he may have to go hungry or escape from other animals intent on making a lunch out of him. But the remainder of his life will certainly be more exciting than what passed up to this adventure, and no one can say he didn’t take action to change his life.

Someone close to me recently said that we rarely look back with regret on the risks we take in life, and I think that’s true. Too many of us (myself included) are prone to letting our lives take the passive course – to strain the metaphor a bit, we’re more like Inky’s tank-mate than we are like bold Inky himself. We let circumstances decide what happens to us, rather than making decisions ourselves, for fear that we’ll make the wrong choices. It’s easy to stay in whatever safe little boxes we’ve found ourselves in. And it’s easy, too, to say that Inky might well have regretted his choice (if regret is an intellectual pursuit open to octopuses) if he’d died on the floor, or in some municipal water system. But most of our decisions in life are a lot less life-threatening. We choose whether or not to apply to the new job, whether or not to talk to that enticing stranger down the bar or across the shelf at the bookstore. And we decide whether or not to take a chance on the characters and worlds taking shape in our minds.

Let’s write on that empty page. Let’s finish that first draft. Let’s take that manuscript to a writer’s group, rewrite with their advice, and send it off to an editor. Pursue. Take action. At the end of your life, are you more likely to regret the things you’ve done, or the things you’ve not done?

Pull yourself out of that tank and see what the great big ocean has to offer.

Get a quote!

Related Posts