why i am the octopus

I once saw a video of an octopus being put into a tank with three to four foot sharks. I believe this happened because the the octopus’ tank needed cleaning or repair but I cannot be certain. The narrator speculates as to the octopus’ safety and concludes that it should be sufficiently camouflaged to survive amidst the sharks.

After several shark carcasses are found someone does a little night-time camera work. The octopus – legs twirling, propelling, spiraling – finds a niche at the bottom of the tank. It is reddish brown in colour and unlike a child’s smooth drawing of an octopus, real octopi are covered in what I can only call wavering flaps of skin that make them otherworldly and entirely alien and their movements mesmerizing.

Within moments, a shark swims by and all eight limbs reach out, bind the shark, immobilize it and pull it in to be devoured.

And they were worried about the octopus…

I found this video empowering. I liked that a creature whose physicality seems the living embodiment of uncertainty – moving in many directions at once, never truly still, twisting back on itself in never ending loops – had been underestimated.

In a society where our language has designated worldly success as being under the purview of the “sharks”, particularly when it is brutally won and of the kind that has often made me shrink from the world, I am comforted – even bolstered – by the idea that the octopus can eat the shark.

Also, at this time in my life I feel pulled apart most days by all the roles I must play. So, in the spirit of the octopus, I have divided myself into eight categories: Woman, Mother, Writer, Friend, Mate, Sister, Daughter & Critic.

I will try not to eat you.
But if I want to.
I promise you.
You won’t see it coming.




  1. My dear, you are infinately more lovely than an octopus, but every bit as cunning and clever. A wonderful update on the hare and the tortoise!

    Have you read the Golden Notebook? Atwood, I think. Kind of reminds me of the different authors within the author.

    I wish you much inspiration with your blog!

  2. I haven’t read it. I go on and off Atwood – more off than on of late. But, perhaps I will find it at the library.

    Thank you for coming to this octopus place. It means a lot to me that you took the time.

    Kisses to you and the girls.

  3. My dear Sulya, beautiful comparison and smart imagination. I want to read more.


  4. Sulya,
    Good on ya! A great avenue for you and your creative spirit.
    Have been passing through your neck of the woods quite a bit for work these days – what would you think of a prolonged stopover and we can do dinner sometime? I hope you are well and I miss you dearly.

  5. Golden Notebook, of course! Very appropriate. It’s Doris Lessing, though. Published in the early sixties and a fabulous book, largely because it affirmed my love of apparent disorder, of boundaries bleeding into each other.

    I look forward to reading more, my lovely cephalopod!

  6. Hello Sulya, I stumbled across your site after googling for ‘octopus woman’ and thought you might like to look at my octopus woman on my website – http://www.danhillier.com...

  7. I am riveted by your blog. It’s fascinating and truthful! I think your insights are much like a cephalopod. Their eyes are more highly developed than those of any other invertebrate. Octopuses tuck themselves into crevices and need to be able to spot a potential meal as it passes, and like the octopus, you are able to capture a topic of conversation and devour it from any angle. You can discriminate the tiny bits of information and clearly define an idea. Love it! I think a human focuses on an image by changing the shape of the eye lens, whereas an octopus zooms the lens forwards and backwards like a slide projector. I’m going to have to ponder this idea today. Hmmm… how does this relate to Sulya’s blog?

  8. Welcome Welcome! YEY YEY YEY You found me! I am going to have to ponder that observation and offer of information about the octopus too… Thank you for that gift… Some lovely poetry to be sorted and discovered there I think… More soon!

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