Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a salmon was hatched in a high mountain pool, far from the
Great Waters of his parents' homeland. From his infancy onwards Salmon Boy enjoyed his life with the Salmon
People - swimming around, leaping above the surface to catch flies in the sunlight, keeping an eye out for the
kingfishers and eagles and hawks, and letting the current take him downstream.
One day after many a rapids and many a bend in the river, Salmon Boy found himself entering the deepest
water he had ever known, and salty, not like the waters of his birthplace.
By and by, after much wandering and searching, he met an Elder Salmon at the mouth of an underwater cave.
Old Salmon Man had a certain look in his eyes, as though he could see things a long way off.
Swimming up to him respectfully, he asked him the following question. "Sir, I've been traveling for a long,
long time, but I'm not sure where I am. Can you tell me?"
The Elder Salmon regarded him steadily for a moment, and then responded, "This place we call Great Mother
Ocean. The homeland of the Salmon People. You are here. Keep your eyes open and pay attention. Eventually
you will find what you are looking for. That's all you need to know for now." Saying this, he withdrew into the
Salmon Boy thanked the Elder and swam thoughtfully away. He now knew two things, where he had come
from, and where he was now.
But as time passed and he came into his maturity, he began to wonder about one more thing: "Where am I
going?" He wondered about this quite a lot and asked his brothers and sisters many questions, but no one had an
answer that seemed to satisfy him.
One fine day, however, he met Old Salmon Woman, who told him of a group who were preparing for a
journey far up in the mountains. From her description it sounded like a place he wanted to be.
When introduced to the members of the group, he found them strangely familiar, although he was sure he had
never met any of them before. One day when the preparations were well under way, he went back to Old Salmon
Man at the mouth of the underwater cave. Approaching him respectfully, he told Old Salmon Man about the
group and its plans, then asked for his advice. The Salmon Elder told him, "Soon you will make a long journey -
full of adventures but very difficult. Beware of the sea lions at the mouth of the river. Beware also of the
fishermen with their glittering lures. The long swim against the current will require a great effort. But if you can
avoid these dangers and reach your destination, you will attain what you came into the Great Green World
Returning to his group, Salmon Boy told them what the Elder had said. The group continued their
preparations with greater intensity.
One day, the group felt the call more urgently than ever. They set off together. As time passed, Salmon Boy
began to feel a real sense of solidarity with his brothers and sisters, and something more, something he had never
felt before - what was it? - something like destiny.
In the distance he could hear the sea lions roaring hungrily, anticipating the arrival of the group. Who would
perish and who would prevail? Not knowing the answer to this question, but with growing faith he plunged into
the waves, knowing this was the journey all must make.
* * *
The story flowed from my bones. The archetypal images -- the Great Waters, the Wise Old Man, the Wise
Old Woman, and the Perilous Journey to the Source -- belong to the collective unconscious. From an outside
perspective, my story is merely a reworking of a well-established pattern. From my own perspective, however, I
discovered that I had formulated for myself my own sense of entry into the timeless mythic world. The story
accurately rendered in pictorial form the larger issues in my life at that time.
To be specific, in a few months I would be making real a long-cherished dream: creating a sustainable
homestead on pristine rural land.
This fulfillment of this dream had been a long time coming. Twenty years ago, the dream was born when I
visited a friendís place on Lopez Island. But with an urban-born and-bound wife and two young sons to support,
my dream gradually faded.
After fourteen years of marriage, however, my nuclear family detonated. When the fallout settled, I was free
to pursue my original desire. Fortunately a few years after the divorce I happened to meet a fine woman, a true
kindred spirit, who shared my dream. Even before the wedding we bought land on Lopez Island. In the next few
years we put in an orchard, a garden, a waterline, and a pond. One crucial element was lacking -- the home --
solar, earth-friendly, sustainable, a sacred space for living in harmony with the earth and for gatherings of kindred
But as the prices of lumber skyrocketed my hopes of building such a place on a teacherís salary dwindled. At
one point I felt like the prince in "The Golden Bird" whose task is to move a whole mountain by himself.
There are only two laws to the universe, it is said. The first: Begin. The second: Continue.
We decided to continue.