As you are reading this journal post, I will be en route to Japan. One of the highlights of this trip is that I will arrive right in the middle of the beautiful sakura season.
Cherry blossoms are a reminder of life’s fleeting beauty or mono no aware - the transience of life. I have also heard mono no aware described as capturing the essence of a long sigh. This concept of impermanence is not one we often think about in the West, where we strive for constant perfection and happiness. However, in Japan, this sentiment has been a strong part of the culture for quite a while.
Cherry blossoms bloom quickly, almost as if they are coming out of nowhere. They fall from their branches shortly after. Their blooming is celebrated by everyone in Japan, acknowledging that this beauty is transient. So sakura season is a joyous celebration of spring, but also has a tint of… I don’t want to say sadness… reality is a better way to describe it. The cherry blossoms serve as a reminder that all things - even beautiful things, come to an end, but when they are there present, they should be celebrated.
On New Year’s Eve, three days before a trip to my parents, I received a phone call informing me that my father has been admitted to the hospital due to congestive heart failure. He is OK now, or at least getting there, but he has turned a corner in his life. Since then, I have been contemplating how to handle the aging of my parents and the emotions that go with it. What I have realized over the past few months is that we can’t stop time. There is no use worrying - it’s just a distraction. All I can do in this situation is call him more often, visit him more often, and simply try to bring a sense of comfort by being there for him.
Have you ever watched a movie or listened to a song because it evoked a much-needed good cry for you? I have a feeling that when I see the cherry blossoms, they will trigger the cry that I need. Once I have that moment, I plan to enjoy the beauty of the sakura flowers while remembering, celebrating, and, most importantly, internalizing the cycle of life that applies to us all.