Ever see one of those films of salmon? The ones where they are struggling to make it back upstream and return to where they were spawned? They are all wriggling muscle in the roaring rapids, straining as they leap, often getting knocked down, but coming right back up, fighting spirit fully alive. A monumental task to be sure and one that must be exhausting for the fish, yet they persist. Some unfortunates no doubt tucker out and give in to defeat; others may be grabbed by a hungry fishing bear, but it’s always fascinated me how they continue on against insurmountable odds, driven by a primal pull I can’t fully understand. And yet…

Sometimes I too feel like a salmon. A salmon swimming upstream in a valiant effort to get things set right in ways large and small. My stream is not one of water but is just as real as any river the salmon must traverse. Life is messy, and unlike the promise of a certain television commercial for vacuum cleaners, it takes more than a Bissel to clean it up.

On top of everything else that goes on in our lives winter can be hard. Winter can be dark, sunless and feel like sheer drudgery. We shovel snow and without much of a break turn around and shovel some more of it and snap! yet more again. We can’t just pop outdoors. Oh no — we must insulate ourselves against the elements from head to toe and then some. In warm weather, I can bop down the driveway to get the daily mail without putting on enough gear to outfit a small army. Bare feet. Hatless head. Not so now. While I’m on the subject of mail consider this: the mailbox is not always our friend. For every piece of mail we greet with anticipation there are a dozen other pieces that do not bring one bit of joy. Instead, they are bills needing paying, junk mail needing recycling or paperwork needing filing. Even in our present “digital age” we still drown in paper. I like paper, I do, just not so much of it that it makes me crazy in a sort-file-burn cycle that would make any salmon happy to lie in a still pool for a while. Still pools. Sometimes they’re difficult to find and therein I believe lies the rub.

When my thoughts are in disarray, like a gerbil running on that little wheel that goes nowhere, is when the upstream swimming begins for me. And there’s not a thing I can do about it except keep struggling against that current, take a breather in a quiet pool if and when I can find one, and swim on again. Unfortunately, mid-January is usually like this for me. Winter blahs. Mid-January crazies. Whatever name I put to it doesn’t matter. The jigsaw puzzle on the card table, the word search book in the magazine rack, the novel on the nightstand, the many and varied channels on the television set, the blank journal pages not yet written on, favorite DVDs such as “Northern Exposure” or “Gilmore Girls” sitting idly in the cabinet. None of them seem able to bring the necessary ease. The necessary quietude of a mind that is quivering like any salmon facing the rapids head-on. Oi.

Since its too soon to “think spring”, even if that were my wish since I’ve not enjoyed the fullness of the winter season just yet, I’ll have to do what I always do. Roll with it. Or just let it roll over me. That just might work.

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