Empowerment

Once upon a time a little octopus lived in warm, shallow waters close to a sandy beach. Do you know how many legs an octopus has? Yes, eight. And do you know what they are called? That's right. Tentacles. Well, this little octopus loved to wrap its tentacles around things and hang on. It might grab hold of a fish and go for a fun ride. It might hang on to a solid rock that felt strong and secure.

One day, as the little octopus was out exploring, it saw a strong, sturdy anchor hanging below a ship. Immediately, the little octopus wrapped its tentacles around the anchor and hung on.

Then something scary happened. The anchor began to drop, sinking down into darker, colder waters where the little octopus had never been before. The little octopus didn't like it but didn't know what to do. What do you think you would do if you were the octopus? Would you hang on or let go?

Well, the little octopus hung on until, with a thump, the anchor landed on the sea floor. Then it hung on tighter. It was frightened and scared of this strange place, and still didn't know what to do.

Just then it saw a friendly-looking fish swimming toward it in a gentle, relaxed motion. "Help," called the little octopus. "Can you help me?"

"Yes, I can help you," said the fish. Its eyes seemed kindly and caring. "But, first, you have to help yourself. You need to let go of that anchor, before I can show you a way."

Still the little octopus didn't know what to do. The anchor felt strong. If the octopus let go, it would be alone in the water all by itself. It looked at the fish. The fish nodded encouragingly, and the little octopus began to slowly peel off one tentacle at a time. Having so many legs or arms (and a tentacle is a bit like both) can be nice if you want to hug someone you love, but can make hard work of it ifyou want to let something go. The last one was the hardest. It needed to hold on just a little longer before building up the courage to set itself free.

The kindly fish waited, encouraging and congratulating. When the little octopus let go of the anchor the fish said gently, "Follow me." It swam back and forth, gradually making its way up toward the bright, warmer waters, guiding the little octopus in a way that it could repeat if ever it got caught out of its depth again.

The little octopus felt stronger and happier as it swam on. It caught up with the fish and, for a while, they swam side by side. No longer did it need to follow. At times it began to swim ahead, taking the lead and making its own way forward. No longer did it feel out of its depth. In fact, this had been a real adventure.

Before long the fish said, "No longer do you need me. You can swim on strongly by yourself now. Enjoy."

The little octopus thanked the fish and swam on upward. The waters continued to grow brighter and warmer. Light rippled off the surface and shone into the sea, highlighting the yellows, reds, and blues of the tiny fish that darted in and out of the colorful coral. The things around the little octopus seemed much the same as before, but now the octopus felt different, stronger, more confident.

Then it did something an octopus doesn't usually do. It crawled up onto the beach and stretched out on the sand, basking in the warm sun. It felt nice to relax for a while and do nothing in particular.

The little octopus looked at the limestone cliffs behind the beach. Maybe it had learned to like having adventures. Maybe doing something new didn't feel as scary as it had before. The cliffs looked tempting. The little octopus wondered what it would be like to climb to the top.

Carefully, it began its climb toward the cliff top. The going was not always easy, but the little octopus was excited by the challenge. At times it was a struggle but the little octopus pressed on, and wow, what a feeling when it stood on the top.

A cool breeze blew in from the ocean. As naturally as if it had been doing it all its life, the little octopus spread its tentacles out like wings and began to lift on the breeze. Like an eagle it soared into the air, riding the gentle currents, experiencing the joy of flying.

Looking down, the little octopus saw the ocean below. That was where it had come from.

Looking up it saw the clear, blue sky above. That was where it was going. Who would have guessed that an ordinary little octopus could have flown to such heights?

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