Recently, I visited a church where a friend of mine serves as pastor. During the sermon, she told of a documentary she’d seen on the lives of salmon and how their entire species depends on the success of their upstream journey. Her storytelling skills left me believing I had seen the documentary myself. The vivid imagery of the salmon ‘jumping’ from one seemingly impossible obstacle to another, all while traveling against the current of a rapidly flowing river, had me internally cheering for the strongest, fastest salmon to succeed in making it all the way to the top of the waterfall. As the fish made it to the top, I rejoiced at such miracles of nature. Then, just as the salmon had overcome all of the astronomical trials put in its way, as they arched their bodies into the air at the top of a waterfall to make a graceful dive back down into the water, they were snatched out of the air and eaten by a bear.
Midlife feels like that at times. We work so hard, tackling one challenge after another, counting down to the promised joy of retirement. Yet, many mid-lifers find themselves ‘snatched’ from their life’s plan and are now caring for grandchildren or their own aging parents, all while struggling to keep their own professions and personal health a priority. Where is the joy?
As a mid-lifer, I am thankful for and find inspiration in the story of the salmon. We can make a choice to tackle obstacles along the way with joy, determination and hope for lies ahead, even if what lies ahead is not exactly what we planned. Just remember to stay away from Bears!