Today, my husband and I went for a hike in the woods of coastal Northern California. It was a cold, misty, grey kind of a day. Our intention was to find and view wild salmon in their native habitat. These beautiful fish spend most of their lives in the ocean and as they approach adulthood they return to their birthplace to begin a new generation. It’s a long and difficult journey and there are no guarantees that they will succeed.

Their trip upstream is filled with twists and turns, as the stream ebbs and flows. At times the giant fish swam in circles then they moved into forward motion, swimming strong and true. I noticed deep and quiet pools in the water, places where some fish almost seemed to stand still………motionless. Along the creek banks I observed brush and debris, and water so shallow that it seemed as if the fish might get stranded and not be able to find their way back to deeper waters.  Amazing how these fish have the ability to navigate these waters, have the innate knowledge of knowing what needs to happen next.

Standing on the creek bank and watching these fish I couldn’t help but think about how I flowed (or didn’t) in my own life. I realized that at times my interpretation of flow may take on a quality of always moving forward, making progress of some sort. Seeing the salmon move offered me a different perspective on flow. Yes, at times the salmon did move forward, but more often than not they moved within the flow of their home, the water. The flow of that water changed as the contours of the stream changed, as the depth of the water changed and as the debris from the land fell into the water. When changes happened in their world, the fish changed with it.

I can learn a lot from these salmon. They encounter ebb and flow, low points and high places, and lots of obstacles. Through it all they find a way to be with whatever they encounter in the stream. Their version of progress seemed to encompass a broader spectrum of flow than mine. They don’t seem to mind that they swim backward, forward, sideways, in circles and even motionless. They work with the obstacles thrown into the water and find a way through or around or under. Remarkable!

As we walked back to our car I considered how I might invite this salmon approach of flow into my life.  What would it be like to know that I have all I need within myself to move, navigate and flow with what is happening in my life? What would it be like to know that I can choose how I respond to my environment?  What would it be like to know that flow can sometimes show up as stuck, or feel like I am taking 2 steps backward? Sometimes flow can show up as ebb and sometimes flow in my life can show up as standing still. All of that makes me smile.