Life is hard. We all struggle along the way. But a trip to a small local stream in Seaside, OR put it all into perspective for me. Within this stream were numerous salmon making their way upstream to lay their eggs.
Salmon are unique in that they are born as small eggs in a stream bed and spend the first few years of their lives in these streams. These are FRESHWATER streams. Their bodies then begin an amazing transformation as they slowly adapt to survive in salty water and then venture out to into the Pacific Ocean to live out their adult lives. As the salmon reaches maturity it journeys back to the same stream in which it was born to lay it's eggs. How they find their way back from the immensity of the Pacific Ocean is a small feat in itself. The salmon then generally dies within a week of spawning, fertilizing the stream and creating a nutrient-rich environment for the new infant salmon that are about to hatch.
At the stream we visited I was told that salmon used to be so plentiful that a person could "walk across the stream on the backs of the salmon". Farmers used to easily gather the fish and lay them in their crop fields as fertilizer. Now, in this stream there are only a handful of salmon. Life is hard. Especially when your a fish and must conquer dammed rivers, fishing nets, pollutants, introduced diseases, and more just to complete your basic life cycle.