In July 2011, Rich and I moved to the UK for 5 months to work on a show. Part of our contract included a full month-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe, which was by far the most insane and wild month of my life. We never went to bed before sunrise, I saw solo performances by balloon artists that brought me to tears, we became friends with Tom Green (yes, bum bum Tom Green), we ate 17 slices of toast/day, I learned about flat whites, and we just generally had the best freaking time ever. Most shows have one day off during the festival, so we decided to take a tiny trip to the Highlands.
We stayed in a teensy B & B on Loch Ness run by a woman who could not have been more Scottish if she tried. Mrs. MacRae literally greeted me in the morning by saying "good mornin', lassie. Come set down and have a wee cuppa." (I was like "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!")
We went on a hike in the Hermitage, a beautiful forest park with a river running through it that leads to a waterfall. Honestly, if a band of gnomes had appeared from behind a tree and done a choreographed dance, I would not have been surprised. It just felt like a place where magic happened.
We followed the trail to thundering waterfalls. There was neon green moss and lichen everywhere, proving that the air was super clean. The smell of the water was intoxicating to me, a water lover (take that, fire sign!). We sat on mossy damp boulders, and rain was sneaking through the tree cover, but it didn't matter because it turns out something magical WAS happening:
Hundreds of salmon were swimming upstream. Through all the resistance and the churning water, they were LEAPING out of the water from the turbulent base of the falls, up into the middle and swimming upstream against the current. Even though it seemed impossible, and they looked so teeny compared to the water, the salmon did it anyway. They did because no one ever said "hey, Salmon, do you seriously think you are going to throw your body UP a waterfall? Yeah, good luck with that." They did it because it's innate, because something in their salmon brain says "do this now," because they just have to.
This was one of the coolest and most exciting experiences I've ever had, and I've been thinking about it so much lately. I keep wondering if the salmon swim up to the bottom of the waterfall and want to take a tiny rest because they're exhausted but the current is pushing them away and they literally can't stop, can't wait for a perfect moment, can't wait for the crashing water to ease up a bit, can't hesitate because all the work that got them there in the first place will be wasted and maybe they won't be able to do it again, they have to leap, they have to jump, they have to fight the resistance, they have to go, they can't think about it, the time is now, LEAP NOW.
It's impossible to see into the water at the base of the falls because it's churning so hard, so maybe they all fall right back down again. Maybe I watched the same two salmon try to do it over and over. If so, even more amazing. But i know i didn't. There were so many. They just jump. They do it because there is no other way UP that seemingly impossible waterfall unless they leap and then fight as hard as they can through all the resistance.
I loved those freaking brave little salmon so much.
The only way out is through.
And the only way to start is to leap.