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The Octopus Game


Growing up, my mom would play what she called the octopus game with me. She'd trap me in a hug that had me wrapped not only in her arms but also in her legs -- that was as close as she ever came to being an octopus -- and then I had to break free (often while giggling uncontrollably). Today, I tried the octopus game for the first time with my 1-year-old; she didn't love it. So for now, it's mainly something to play with my 2-year-old, who also isn't overly enamored of it but who laughs at the accompanying tickles and, unfailingly, makes his way to freedom. If it doesn't work to go under, he goes over and if not over, then under -- or he just squirms his way out. Invariably, though, he finds a way.


In episode 8, I speak with Tyler Kirk, a blind lawyer who many thought might not graduate high school on time (he did) and might not complete college at all (he did this too). He credits his parents, with helping him succeed, as they instilled in him the sense that he'd need to figure out how to make things work; that is, if one avenue closed to him, it would be incumbent on him to find another. Thus, when he couldn't find a way to make it to his goal of becoming an economist because of his waning sight, he pivoted to law to find a fulfilling career.


As will become even more apparent in part 2 of this interview (in episode 9), Tyler is an amazing example of sheer grit, courage and determination. As the saying goes, where there's a will, there's a way. That is, he's confident and an optimist -- but he's also a pragmatist. After fighting/denying his progressive sight loss as a child, he realizes it was a mistake to pretend he wasn't different and wasn't going blind. And as a young adult, when he lost the remaining bit of vision he had (around age 24), he had to concede that the career he'd initially chosen for himself was no longer in reach.


There's no question that the Covid economiy is an exceptionally challenging one -- either a deep recession or perhaps even a depression. And it certainly isn't a time of endless possibility, at least not for most of us. But, taking a page from Tyler's playbook, perhaps we can make it into a time for optimism combined with pragmatism -- so we work hard, focusing on the things we can do to help ourselves/what's within our control, and then hopefully wherever we land will be a place that will make us happy.


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