Escaping the Octopus

Regret has wrapped its many tentacled grip around me and I often waken with dreams of its creation. With the business of exams and end of semester evaluations, I don’t have time to address this roaming bottom feeder of the mind, so I move into the light of progress ignoring its suckers holding, clinging, waiting for some acknowledgement.

I do not share this story of regret. I can’t. Not now anyway. It is a story where, even in its creation, I looked away and told myself another story. I could not bear the experience of the moment, lacked the strength to admit to the story, but it is here with me, even now, binding me to a contract of accountability.

It is my usual inclination to do research, so I look for escape from this octopus and find advice from a post on “Worst Case Scenario”.

1. Pull away quickly.
2. Do not go limp.
3. Prevent the octopus’s arms from wrapping around your arms.
4. Peel the suckers from your body.
5. Detach the octopus from its anchor.
6. Turn somersaults in the water.
7. Swim towards the surface.


Peel, detach, turn, and swim, always upwards to towards the surface where there is air and light and joy. For now, I’m going to avoid this slithering beast of regret and enjoy this somersault into new learning letting go of old beasts, old myths which linger.

Published by Melanie White

I am an English and Media Studies teacher, and Department Head of Fine Arts at Nepean High School in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I am concerned with equity and antiracist practices while recognizing that I am speaking from a position of privilege and continuing to learn.

4 thoughts on “Escaping the Octopus

  1. Oh, the power of this metaphor. I am impressed with how well it works both as regret and escape. And I like how you tell a story even while avoiding the story. These lines resonate: “even in its creation, I looked away and told myself another story. I could not bear the experience of the moment… but it is here with me, even now, binding me to a contract of accountability.” Oh yes, I know this feeling. Peel, turn and swim upward!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Powerful images, very real, and what practical and metaphorical advice! I must tell you that I fell in love with the octopus last summer. I am sure there’s a post germinating; it hasn’t formed yet. I wrote “summer of the octopus” on my list of ideas and when it’s ready, it will come to life. But for now: oh yes, those creatures can pull a human under. And – they remember you. (That may not be helpful at all. given your metaphor, but it fascinates me!).

    Liked by 1 person

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