Salmon Swimming Upstream


“SALMON SWIMMING UPSTREAM”, 1985, 5′ x 5′, pigment on wool flannel
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I remember painting this textile so many years ago and giving it this title because I had no idea how I ever painted such a thing; complicated, otherworldly, beautiful, never-could-do-that-again-if-I-tried.

It made me think of how no painter I have ever experienced has been able to reproduce on canvas the light of the sun flicking off water.

Perhaps EVERY painter has tried this.

But there are just some things too much larger than us to think we could ever tie it down in 2 dimensions.

Salmon fighting to get back to their nesting grounds is another one of those ‘too much bigger than us’ events to try to comprehend.

I look at myself and all those dealing with a chronic health challenge in the same way I see the salmon; WE ARE DOING WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GO HOME TO GROUND FAMILIAR AND SAFE TO US.

No matter if we stop behind a rock where the eddy is softer and we are out of the ferocious current for a moment or a week or a few years.. we rest there.

And then we go out there and fight the fight once again.. on our way home.

For us, home may mean so many things.

We may run out of steam an the midst of the journey and just stop the fight and surrender to the wiles of the gods of the river.

Or the stamina needed to keep on keeping on may be ours and we make headway.

Or, if we are really fortunate, we sense that we are like the turtle and are ALWAYS at home and the journey is decidedly dependent on our point of view.

That right there has been the jewel in my crown so far in life..

I really am getting it that my existence is 100% dictated by my attitude.

Does this mean I don’t get pissy and frustrated and retreat to bed for days at a time sometimes?

Well, no… I am still here in the flesh with every cell of me calibrated toward finding home and a lot of the time I only have the strength to make it to the bed.

And that perceived passivity just kills me sometimes.

Until I get it that it is just an eddy behind a rock in the stream and I remember the last time I hung out in one I was better and stronger and ready to reenter the stream.

Rest, reenter, rest, reenter… smart moves.

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