Stuff I Did in the '80s
My Octopus Teacher
My Octopus Teacher

I spent many a summer snorkeling in the Florida Intracoastal Waterway, which was just a short bike ride from my house. My buddy, Mark, and I would explore the grass flats for hours and catch all sorts of creatures for our fish tanks. We’d even sell fish to a local pet shop, Silent World, for decent pay. Imagine my glee when we captured an octopus—I just knew we were gonna make some serious bank!

I plopped the octopus in our fish tank back home and excitedly called the pet shop.

“We won’t buy it,” said the owner.

“What! Why?” I asked.

“It will eat everything in the tank, then escape in search for more food.”

I watched tentacles snake around the filter and lid of our tank. The octopus was changing colors like a strobe light. I was entranced. I wanted to keep it. “What if the lid on our tank locks?”

“Doesn’t matter. It will figure out how to open it. They are that smart,” replied the owner.

“They can…learn how to open the lid?”

“Yep. Get it out of your tank ASAP.”

My mom drove me back to our snorkel spot and I waded out to the grass flats. With newfound awe, I apologized to the octopus as I scooped it from the bucket. It clung to me for a moment, probing my hands with its suction cups, before disappearing in a cloud of ink.

I never caught another fish to sell after that day. There was more to my marine neighbors than I realized.

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Introduction Half a Boombox I’m Not a Member I was Simon Le Bon (For Fifteen Minutes) Motown 25 Watch Whatever, Whenever Snowblind You’re the One That I Want Call Me Your Kiss is on My List Electric Boogaloo Dear Daryl Hall and John Oates Where Shopping is a Pleasure Dialect of a Decade I’m Alright The Sunshine State Shazam! It’s Just a Fantasy I’ve Got a Secret Sunday Funnies Impeachment American Top 40 License to Drive Risky (Show) Business Jumping Someone Else’s Train Yakety Sax I Want to be Elton John When I Grow Up Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Tetherball, Dodgeball & Flag Football Sk8 or Go Home Roll a Saving Throw vs. Velour Piano Man The Duckman Cometh Money for Nothing Waiting for the Bus More Than Meets the Eye The Legend Begins Whip It When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best Master Chef Muppetmania I Want to Ride My Bicycle WW III My Octopus Teacher Some Like it Hot Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Dare to Be Stupid Keeping the Faith
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Never Abandon Imagination Tony DiTerlizzi: Never abandon imagination.

Imagination is a world of possibility that exists within each of us. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is our creative fingerprint that touches and influences the world around us. Imagination is essential to art and science; to innovation and prosperity. It gives us hope, calls us to action and leads to change.

Whether it’s fairies, dragons, robots or aliens, all of my children’s book characters are siblings born of my imagination – an imagination strengthened through years of encouragement from family, teachers and friends. While so many others abandoned it during their transition from childhood to adulthood, I fiercely held onto mine, hoping for a day when I could share it to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Innovators. World changers.

Imagination empowers us to envision and create a reality of what could be. We must hold it dear, foster it and never abandon it.