Monthly Archives: February 2024

Don’t be an Octopus

wood carved of octopus
Photo by Kindel Media on

Disclaimer: It is my understanding octopi are sentient, highly intelligent, and rather remarkable beings. Therefore, the admonishment to avoid imitating this phenomenal creature is metaphorical, mostly.

If they just know me better, they will like me. If I give more time and energy, he will love me.

There are moments when a great deal of time and energy are spent chasing. This applies to friendly, romantic, or even a quest to find ourselves. In these moments, there is a strong pull to throw all we have into the pursuit. But…

Don’t be an octopus.

She used to be my friend. I don’t know what happened. I’ve done all these things to put our friendship back the way it was…I don’t understand what changed…

A recent conversation turned to tears of frustration as I listened to a story about the ineffectual results of the pursuit for the attention of another. A heart, feeling broken from neglect or indifference.

And then an image popped into my mind…

The Incredible octopus that can walk on dry land | The Hunt – BBC

Like something out of a sci-fi story! But, my point is octopi have the capacity to expend energy through eight different channels, simultaneously! Humans on the other hand, do not have eight appendages. Perhaps an obvious observation and yet, there are clearly moments when we forget this. We dispense energy as though we are not bound by our miserly four limbs and the implicit laws of the universe.

In the instances where we pretend to be octopi and flail our metaphorical appendages around hoping to garner attention, affection, validation, we are simply proving the First Law of Thermodynamics – energy can only be transferred; it cannot be created or destroyed. In other words, it is impossible to give limitless energy to others.

When my daughter was about three, she asked for gum. I didn’t have any gum. She kept asking, and asking, and asking. (I’m sure you can imagine). And then in a blaze of brilliant failure to communicate, I blurted out, “I can’t give you what I don’t have.” The asking stopped as suddenly a charge filled the air in the car. The profound had hit like a bolt of lightning.

Apologies if you have heard me tell this story, but seriously, it just applies to so many things! Gum, faith, love, energy…

I can’t give what I don’t have…

Please give to others. Give kindness, love, patience, peace…but don’t be an octopus. Give in appropriate quantities. Keep some energy for yourself to grow your own container. Then you can give more.

Don’t be an octopus.

Stop whipping limited appendages about in pursuit of attention, metaphorically or literally. Chose rather to give, arms outstretched, and palms open – like a human. And actually, that puts you in the perfect position to receive something in return.