Being a Salmon is frickin’ exhausting.
I mean, think about it … You’re this shiny silver fish with a mission and a calling. You’re destined to swim upstream, against the current, to find your truth. You don’t just troll about in a lake, happily oblivious unless some hook descends into your midst to disrupt life as you know it. No, when you are born you leave your birthplace and travel to the big salty sea. And then, in the prime of life when most fish are settling in and enjoying algae and plant cocktails, you intentionally take on the most difficult trip of all, swimming upstream through danger and against the tide.
It’s the most authentic journey of any creature alive. And salmon never question the danger or difficulty. They know what they have to do for themselves and the good of their species. And they just do it.
Salmon are fascinating creatures. They are born in fresh water. But their natural inclination guides them to migrate, leaving their birthplace to “grow up” in the ocean. They mature there for 2-4 years. Then, after living the good life, their instinct calls them home to the exact stream where they were born. And they remember how to get there!
They then undertake a challenging trip upstream to return to the rivers of their birth, dodging predators, leaping up waterfalls, and fighting the current every inch of the way. It’s an exhaustive trip and about 50% of salmon die within a few weeks after the trek.
Salmon are passionate creatures. They have the courage to swim upstream and their inner compass directs them and keeps them strong despite difficulties along the journey.
I imagine their trip, water constantly battering at them and trying to force them backwards … to give up … to stick to the status quo. And, I find myself relating to these crazy fish and their instinct to fight their way to where they want to be. They are brave, strong and focused and they refuse to give up when things get tough. They fight rushing waves to get the place their very essence tells them they need to be. And they never question this calling.
The journey of a Salmon is a true and compelling reflection of the path of living an authentic life. They don’t give up when challenges arise. They just keep swimming until they reach the place they know in their heart they need to be.
Do you ever feel like a Salmon? Like you’re swimming upstream, fighting the rush of a raging stream and dodging predators? You willingly take this journey while doing all you can to avoid bald eagles with sharp beaks trying to separate you from your fellow salmon and sport fisherman seeking to snare you in their nets. Well … you get the idea. But … all the while, there are these Trout swimming along beside you… oblivious and content with the status quo, drinking the KoolAid, going with the flow and seeing no reason to change.
The way I see it, I’m a Salmon. My passionate nature takes me upstream sometimes, fighting bears and obstacles, and I get frustrated by those passive, complacent Trout. Passion has a price though. It separates you. Fighting to get where you feel you need to be isn’t easy. Dorothy’s Yellow Brick Road looked pretty but it was filled with challenges along the way. Consider some of the most famous Salmon in history … Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela, Sally Ride and Amelia Earhart, Anne Frank and Rosa Parks … and the list goes on.
I’ve come to terms with the knowledge that I’m a Salmon. my instinctual nature calls me make my world the best it can be and sometimes that means I have to swim upstream to be the authentic person I am … to be true to my calling. I’m not easy going. And I don’t sit idly by, swimming with the Trout, when I see something that needs attention. I speak up. I fight for things, causes people (etc) I believe in, even when that means I’m truly swimming upstream.
It’s hard at times. It’s tiring to fight for your truth and what you believe to be best for yourself, those you care for and those you simply encounter in the Trout Stream. Not everyone wants to be a Salmon. Some are happy swimming along undercover. But I put myself out there and don’t tend to go quietly.
Oh, there are times I find myself floating along and hoping some bear or bald eagle doesn’t notice that I’m weak and slightly broken after that last waterfall I leapt or rock bed I fought. I wish — at times — I was better at merrily, merrily going with the flow.
But, it’s just against my nature …