Showing posts with label wonder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wonder. Show all posts

Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Soul of an Octopus - Book Review

The Soul of an Octopus
Oh! From start to finish, The Soul of an Octopus had me utterly mesmerized. Such wonder. I continue to find myself in the awest state of awe (and if that isn't a word, I hereby declare it).

Who knew this creature was so magnificent in every way?  Well, Wilson knew.  And Bill, along with Scott and everyone who had the enormous privilege of intimate engagement with Athena, Octavia, Karma, and Kali.  And now, every single one of us who accepts the invitation to be wowed, and wooed, and wonderized will know.

There is plenty to give rise to a constant state of astonishment.  Three hearts for starters.  Eight arms that function like brains.  A kaleidoscopic flashing of stunning colors and patterns—dizzying in speed and intensity.  

Suction power beyond belief.  Just imagine a quarter ton of lifting and pulling capacity in one tiny body (all contained in small suckers that can untie delicate knots, unscrew lids, manipulate intricate puzzle parts, and discern your body chemistry).  

Then, there is the escapist element.  To be the Houdini of all Houdinis is something quite spectacular.  Give an octopus an inch of opportunity and that octo will, impossibly, ooze through the tiniest of gaps with a fluidity that should be impossible.  Should be.  But isn't.

This is much more than a read.  Truly, to enter into the Soul of an Octopus is to find oneself deep-diving into the lost paradise of Atlantis.  It is a portal into great mystery, majesty, and yes, I admit, there will be mortality.  Life demands it.

From the tanks of the New England Aquarium, to exhilarating open water octopus encounters, breathtaking moments will find you, move you, and capture your heart.  

Which brings us back to the three hearts...

More than anything, I was struck by how encounters with an octopus transformed all she held in thrall: a despairing autistic teen who had recently lost her best friend to suicide; an aquarist with a wife in hospice; a developmentally different twin who exulted in being liked by Karma.  

But wait—how can an invertebrate stir such emotions, such obsession, such desire to connect at the deepest of levels?  What is this?  Is this a soul connection?

Ah, now we are asking questions that have no neat and tidy answers.  Yet, these are questions that bring us beyond ourselves.  No matter the viewpoint, and there are plenty of perspectives regarding what constitutes soul, to embrace that there is more to this oceanic creature than meets the eye is to embrace a deeper sense of ourselves in relationship to that magnificent mystery.  

An expansion of consciousness can happen in that space between the knowing and the not knowing (if, like the octopus, we become fluid enough to flow through the impossibly possible).  

I encourage you to dive deep into this wonderland.  I consider The Soul of an Octopus to be one of the most exquisite books I have read this year.  Highly recommended.









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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Movie Review - Wonder

If you are looking for an inspirational, feel-good movie the whole family can enjoy this holiday season, look no further than Wonder.  This film has everything that leaves a moviegoer satisfied—characters you actually care about, themes that matter, and a happy ending.  You might shed a few tears, like I did, but they will be the kind of tears that make you feel something beautiful.

Based on the runaway best-selling book by R.J. Palacio, Wonder takes us into the life and times of August Pullman, a ten-year-old boy born with the kind of severe facial deformities that cause most everyone he meets to respond to him in ways that are very painful.  The movie follows Auggie as he makes his grand entry into the public life of a fifth-grader after previously being home-schooled.  Anyone who has ever been the new kid at school will be able to relate to Auggie's experiences with bullies and the extreme distress of not fitting in.

The movie's storyline is revealed to us as the main characters take turns presenting their perspectives.  I don't always like this cinematic or literary technique, but it works well in this movie.  It is a very effective way of telling the stories within the story and it helped me form bonds with each character.  Getting to briefly run around inside the heads of the supporting characters fleshed out the movie's themes and made them multi-dimensional.

Choose Kind

We are introduced to Wonder's guiding principles through the precepts of Auggie's English teacher, Mr. Browne.  Choosing kindness, a major theme, is unveiled early in Mr. Browne's classroom via this quotation by Dr. Wayne Dyer:
"When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind."
The mark of an exceptional movie, at least for me, is what happens when I step out of the theater after the closing credits.  Last night, upon arriving home, I found myself spending hours online learning more about Treacher Collins Syndrome (Auggie's condition), the Choose Kind movement inspired by Wonder, watching video interviews with families affected by this syndrome, and reading up on how R.J. Palacio came to write Wonder.

Nurture Kindness

This movie is one that will impact me for a very long time.  As a former teen who was bullied for merely being the new kid at my middle school, I have never forgotten the misery and deep pain caused by that experience.  It shaped who I became as a teacher and continues to remind me that we each have an awesome responsibility to nurture kindness in young people.  If I leave no other legacy as a teacher and human being than that of planting seeds of kindness and compassion, I will feel as though I did something meaningful with my life.

I encourage you to take a child or grandchild to see Wonder.  My gifts to young people this Christmas will include the book Wonder, along with related journals and t-shirts that promote the Choose Kind message.  It is just one of the many ways I intend to celebrate the hope and wonder of the season.











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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

On Belonging, Astonishment, and Becoming Spring


Each Petal a Heart... My Heart
“Every spring is the only spring—a perpetual astonishment.”  ~Ellis Peters

There are mornings, such as these, when I am baptized by astonishment.  And in these moments of breathtaking wonder, I belong—I belong to the land, to the first wildflowers of the season, to the mountain chickadee and bluebirds, the oriole, the purple martins, and the mighty hummingbirds.

What is the purpose of green living if not this—to belong to that which is a perpetual astonishment?  Without that sense of surprise and sheer delight, the days would merely be hours.

I’m supposed to be writing reviews, but my spirit wants to sing a different song as this glorious day unfolds.  To deny the song would render my writing moot.  One can only write what one feels deeply, madly, and truly. 

On what feels like the first day of spring I have ever truly known, the words that want to be written are tender, unfurling leaves.  To stand under a young elm tree, witnessing buds giving birth to green... how does one review that? 

Perhaps, if I get still, and quiet, and deeply absorb all this green, it will become embedded in my DNA and I can be a perpetual spring. Wouldn't that be something to write on my heart?



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