I am not a salmon

By Dwight Collins | Nov 05, 2015

Camden — I often use flowing water as a metaphor. The flowing river is the current of life, carrying us along a path of least resistance to that place in our life that is better than just OK.

I was talking to a friend the other day about struggle, a serious topic, however the two people having the conversation were trying to see the humor in it.

“Why does everything feel like a struggle?” he said. “I feel like I am in one of those pools that you swim in place — the water moves but you stay still. I feel like I am just stuck.”

As I thought about what he was saying, all I could envision was a fish swimming up stream and the undue stress in going against the current.

“You know salmon are one of the only species on the planet that swim up stream to spawn,” I said. “On every level that is a lot of work, reproduction aside, it's a lot of work moving against the current and easily tire.”

I could see the wheels turning in his head and I could see by the expression on his face that he was not happy with the prospect that he was doomed to the life of going with the flow to the sea to eat and then return to the same place to lay eggs — and repeat.

“Why do I always choose to work harder, not smarter?” he said. “Trying to rush things and go against change always leaves me with nothing left in the tank.”

I could totally relate, as do many others, and the only thing I could come up with was, flip over on your back, point your toes downstream and go with it. After all, you are not a salmon.

We both took pause for a minute and the laughter began to fill the room. As my friend gasped for breath, he said, “It's not that simple, however it makes sense. When I'm stressed out I feel like I'm going against the natural flow of things.”

The conversation carried on past swimming up stream and the idea that at some point we would look back on the conversation with the knowledge that keeping the stress level low, means sometimes you just need to go with the flow. As my friend got ready to leave, he thanked me for the conversation and the change in perspective.

“Thanks for the talk,” he said. “I really just need to take things as they come and not force things that are not meant to be forced. After all, like you said, why waste energy swimming up stream?”

Of all of the elements, water is the only one that can move you under its own power. I use water a lot as a metaphor for life, because much like a river, our own personal journeys take us where the water leads us.

Whether you are on a spiritual or religious journey, the one major thing everyone is looking for is enlightenment. Learning about Zen is not being Zen. Spiritual peace is a badge worn on the soul, life changing in our awareness. It takes steady mind and strength to be found and once you are spiritually awakened it takes a strong moral support system to be continued.

So when you are in a situation that is challenging and causing stress, stop and take a look if you are swimming against the current. If so, shout out, “I am not a salmon.”

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