Don’t Worry, You’re an Octopus

The butterfly has long been the symbol of rebirth and fresh starts. The caterpillar eats its way to a new life, which is an idea that everyone can get behind. Then, it is released from the cocoon, beautiful and new, ready to ride the breeze to its next destination.

Yeah, okay. But does anyone else feel like we need a mascot for new beginnings that’s a little, uhm, sturdier? A little more resilient?

Enter the octopus. Besides being incredibly smart, these creatures have an entire array of self-defense mechanisms. From mimicry to expelling ink, they don’t become prey easily.

And if they do get between a rock and a hard place, if they really need to get away, they have one last resort. They lose an arm. That’s right. They can sacrifice their own arm without suffering any nerve damage. Now, that’s a representative of a fresh start that I can truly believe in. (Although, I can sort of see why losing an arm over gaining beautiful wings is why the butterfly trumped the octopus in the self-help symbol department.)

Of course, if we can’t exactly follow in the octopus’s eight footsteps, we can at least take away a lesson from this ingenious animal.

Because even when it feels like you’ve given all you have, you can still give more. And even when it seems scary to give anything at all, you can take heart in the fact that regrowth is imminent. This is what survival is all about: doing all or nothing.

So, maybe you’d prefer to look at life as a butterfly. Maybe you are waiting for the day that you are able to transform into something better, more acceptable to the world. Something to help you transcend everything, as a butterfly takes flight after its wings dry and unfold their shape.

Or you could look at your life as the octopus does. Making sure that when you are cornered, in danger, you have a way out. And even when most things look bleak, you are ready to fight for your existence. And of course, you always have a final trick up your sleeve (literally, your arm.)

Either way, you’ll survive whatever you’re going through. Whether by flying above it or never letting it take what you hold most dear, you will live, but also, you will thrive.

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