My Octopus Teacher is a documentary currently on Netflix. Some of my co-workers were posting about it, so I tuned in. It is no secret I love animals – in some cases, more than I do the human animal. Animals are honest, forthright, forgiving, and great teachers if we are willing to learn.
My Octopus Teacher chronicles the time a researcher battling his mid-life crisis spent with an octopus in the kelp forests off the coast of South Africa. The nearly one-and-a-half-hour documentary is time well-spent.
The researcher is a bit emotionally blunted by his mid-life crisis, in my opinion, so he throws himself into the life of an octopus going about the business of living. Over time a bond is forged as the octopus learns to trust her student who is spending his days, and sometimes nights, among the creatures of the sea. Viewers watch the researcher transition from academic curiosity to a friendship with the eight-legged teacher. I’m not going to lie – I sat in abject wonder and cried a few tears marveling at the intelligence of a mollusk.
I didn’t always agree with the way the researcher handled life in his aquatic research lab. In fact, I was angry he didn’t intervene during a couple of life and death situations his octopus teacher faced. The underwater world is a dog-eat-dog life for sure, I get it. I couldn’t help but wonder, however, if the octopus felt abandoned by his new friend when life became dangerous? I mean, if a dog was being attacked by a much larger dog, wouldn’t you intervene? How are the situations different except that dogs are domesticated? I felt abandoned for the octopus whether or not she was capable of that kind of reason.
In any case, I stand in awe of creation. Do we take the creation for granted believing we are the superior species? We shouldn’t. There is so much we don’t know. We have barely scratched the surface of understanding. Some would argue the seeming intelligence and ability to trust the researcher is the product of millions of years of evolution. But, how did millions of years of evolution prepare this one octopus to learn to trust the human hanging out in her world when it is likely she had never encountered a human previously? I believe there is a God, a Divine Love who created the wonder all around us to unwrap like so many presents under a Christmas tree. My Octopus Teacher is one of those presents that is unwrapped for its viewers…..