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Ichi-go, Ichi-e

Two salmon, a crimson-sided male and a female ready to shed her ripened roe, meet at the end of their long, arduous journeys.  They are kokanee salmon, the land-locked form of the sockeye of the Pacific Northwest.  Like all other Pacific salmon, their return to the same stream where their lives began will be their first and last.  The long upstream journey and the production of milt and roe entirely consume their bodies’ energy stores.

Ichi-go, ichi-e (literally “one time, one meeting”) is one of the best-known Japanese expressions linked to Zen concepts of impermanence. It reminds us to fully focus on and appreciate the uniqueness of every fleeting, precious moment.  Like the brief reproductive encounter that a salmon experiences only once near the end of its life, we must live every moment to the fullest because what is happening now, at this very instant, will soon disappear.

Size:  24 x 18 inches  (2002)

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