Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Lesson in Persistence from Mother Nature

We have friends who have lived within a 20-minute drive of Neuschwanstein castle in Germany for over 14 years . Until we visited them and begged to play tourist at the castle, they had never taken a half-day trip to see what others travel the world to see.

Similarly, we live within a half mile stroll of some of the most fascinating salmon spawning in the world. Every September we see these signs as we drive to and from our busy lives at Microsoft and in the city of Seattle, but in 12 years here have we ever taken a few minutes to pay a visit to the spawning salmon?

Not until today.

Kat and I had spent our Sunday afternoon at the craft store (gotta feed my scrapbooking habit!) and sipping coffee at Starbuck's and were on our way home to do normal-life things like making a lasagne dinner and doing homework when, at the last second we decided to finally see the spawing salmon. We parked almost a stone's throw from our house, walked a short trail to Bear Creek, and there they were -- hundreds of bright red salmon, some with patches of white decaying scales, the gruesome hint of the fate that would soon greet them.

For almost two hours, Kat and I watched the salmon, each one immersed in a valiant struggle to fight against the stream's current with a determination that is truly awe-inspiring. We live a good 30 miles from the Puget Sound, the salt water where these fish began their long journey upstream to spawn -- and then to die. Many of them looked half-dead already, and we could sense their sheer exhaustion as they mustered the strength to fight one small up-hill piffle after another.

As we sat peacefully on a log watching their struggle and their instinctive strength and determination, I began to think about all the times I've complained about my own circumstances recently, wondering how long I can keep looking for the perfect job and how long I can "do it all." I was humbled as I watched the sockeye salmon today, so absolutely determined to spawn, and I promise not to complain anymore... for at least a few days.

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