Touching an Octopus – The Lesson Learned

I was diving off Lahaina, Hawaii at 130 feet wearing a MK21 helmet (hardhat surface air supplied rig), enjoying perfect visibility, and watching a whale swim beneath our ship when I noticed an octopus undulating my way. The not so little fella was travelling 4 feet off the bottom, was about 2 feet long, and seemingly happy – just minding his own business. Now an octopus swims headfirst and uses his tentacles to propel himself, so if he’s 2 feet long moving, he would have a 4 foot wingspan if all spread out. That’s actually a large octopus. Mesmerized by his grace and beauty, I couldn’t resist reaching out and touching him. The moment I did, faster than lightning, his tentacles wrapped around my arm from my hand up to my armpit. Equally as fast, in a panic reaction, I sluffed him off with my free hand, using a great deal of force, probably enough to remove my arm from a bear trap:) Subconsciously, in that nanosecond, I guess I was expecting a monstrous beak, like on the giant squid in the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, to chomp off my hand. But that was hardly the case. He wasn’t being aggressive, it was merely reflex. The now brutalized octopus shot off, defensively squirting a cloud of black dye. The three tentacles I’d ripped from his body, now undulated off in different directions, as if they had a mind of their own. I felt sorry for the lonely tentacles, wandering off to die. As for the trusting and friendly octopus who came to dazzle me with God’s glory, I totally ruined his day. The lesson, as it applies to so many things – if God has something really cool to show me, it doesn’t mean it’s mine or that I should put my dirty mitts all over it.     

The MK21 Diving Helmet.   AA

Photo courtesy of EOD Group One.

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