THE SALMON OF KNOWLEDGE
Surprisingly, there is often great irony in the way the soul behaves. Sometimes in the work world a person with analytic, linear vision can miss out totally on the harvest and fruits of work. The imagination has a particular rhythm of vision which never sees directly in a linear way. The eye of the imagination follows the rhythm of the circle. If your vision is confined to linear purpose, you may miss out on the secret destiny that a form of activity can bring you. There is a lovely Celtic story about Fionn and the salmon of knowledge. Fionn wanted to become a poet. In Celtic Ireland to be a poet was a sacred vocation. The poet summed up in himself a supernatural power, the power of the Druid and the power of creativity. Poets had special access to mysteries which were not available to the common masses.
There was a salmon in the River Slane in County Meath. Whoever caught this salmon and ate it would become the greatest and most gifted poet in Ireland and would also receive the gift of second sight. There was a man called Fionn the Seer who had spent seven years pursuing this salmon. Young Fionn mac Cumhaill came to him to learn the craft of poetry. One day Fionn the Seer came back, having caught the salmon of knowledge. He started a fire and put the salmon on a spit. The salmon had to be turned very carefully and could not be burnt or the gift would be ruined. After a while the fire went low and the salmon could no longer be cooked properly. He had no-one to gather more wood for the fire. Just then his protege, Fionn, came out of the wood and he left him to turn the salmon slowly on the spit. Young Fionn mac Cumhaill began to turn the salmon but he was a dreamer and he allowed his mind to wander. When he looked, a blister had appeared on the side of the salmon. He grew very anxious, knowing that Fionn the Seer would be furious with him for having ruined the salmon. With his thumb he tried to press the blister back in. As soon as he did, he burnt his thumb, then put it in his mouth to relieve the pain. There was some of the oil of the salmon on his thumb and as soon as he tasted the salmon oil, he received th wisdom, the gift of second sight and the vocation of poet. Old Fionn came back with the wood. As soon as he looked at young Fionn's eyes, he knew what had happened. He sat there disappointed that the destiny he had pursued so deliberately had at the last moment turned away from him to be received by an innocent young man who had never even dreamed of such a gift.
This is a good story to illustrate how the linear mind, despite its sincerity and commitment, can totally miss the gift. The imagination in its loyalty to possibility often takes the curved path rather than the linear way. Such risk and openness inherits the harvest of creativity, beauty and spirit.
Sometimes a person has difficulty with work, not because the work is unsuited to them, or they to it, but because their image of the work is blurred and defective. Frequently, such a person lacks a focus. They have allowed the tender presence of their experience to become divided and split. Their sense of their work as expression and imagination has been replaced by an image of work as endurance and entrapment.