Gift of the Octopi

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Photo by Gratisography on

Last fall, my sister bought me a purple octopus bath light at the Vancouver Aquarium. It kind of throbs with light, and if you’re a wee young’un, and you’ve got this thing floating in the tub amidst the mountains of fruity-scented bubbles, I’d wager it’s pretty amazing. I’m not a bath person, alas, so I use it as a kind of night light when Mike is already sleeping when I go to bed. I love that octopus. Last night, I turned on the octopus and it glowed on and off every few seconds while I got ready for bed and gave King Louie his treats. There’s just enough light to do what I need to. Except for the part where it wouldn’t turn off. And pushing the power button eleventy-thousand times didn’t help things. It glowed softly all night on and off… on and off… on and off. Eventually, I put it in a drawer so Mike wouldn’t be disturbed by the aquatic purple disco light. This morning, when I awoke to it still doing it’s purple thing, I shook it and tapped it on my hand and ta-da, it turned off.
Easy as that.
The Commanding Officer at cadets and I are piloting a new communication system. We don’t send tons of texts and/or emails all week. We store them up for a meeting on our usual parade night, and burn through all the items. If there is something so time dependent that it can’t wait, we’ll reserve mid-week conversations for those only. We’re only one week in, but it’s kind of a great system for the two of us. He doesn’t drown in the number of emails I send about all the moving parts, and I don’t feel anxious that he’s not responding because what he really needs is a life preserver. It feels like we’ve found a sweet spot that lets us get stuff done, but doesn’t make it hard for either of us to do our respective parts.
In both the case of the purple octopus and the communications at the armoury, I had to find a system that worked to get what I want without causing grief to anyone else. The paradigm as I expected it to be wasn’t working. The power button only worked as an on button, but wasn’t working to turn it off. Communication that worked for me and the previous CO isn’t working with the new CO. Asking the new CO what would work for him wasn’t helping because he only knew what *wasn’t* working for him. As communication is two-way (or should be), that meant that the system wasn’t working for either of us. But now, we have something that seems to work.
I read The Happiness Project several years ago, and while some of Gretchen Rubin‘s ideas weren’t for me, there were a few things that stuck with me. She set goals for herself each month (with a monthly theme), and researched how things like relationships and home and money contribute to happiness or unhappiness. At the end of each chapter, she talked about how there were some successes and some failures. And that’s where the learnin’ happens. And that’s also where I’m not doing the Stop Start Continue work to determine if the effort is worthwhile. In my work life, I wouldn’t just say that something isn’t working without having actionable plans. And yet, it took me ages to apply the same logic to my life at the armoury. Thanks, brain.
Last night, by the purple light of the glowing octopus, I was thinking about where else in my life I chafe up against a process that doesn’t work. Where do I shoulder in because it *should* work, even if it has never yet worked? I know that I do things because I think that it should/will/ought to be producing some mythical result, but really, notsomuch.
It’s kind of funny to me that in past, I’ve used an Octopus Chart to brainstorm solutions for work issues (or for Child’s essay writing homework, years ago). Last night, the Purple Octopus of Destiny wouldn’t shut off, because the universe needed to slap me upside the head.
Those Octopi are everywhere, man. Be vigilant, those tentacles can grab you when you’re not looking.

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