About Sakura Song

“Sakura Song” is the continuation of Jenny’s “Seasons of Mist” blog, the story of one woman’s meandering search through complex webs and shadowed labyrinths in a quest to discover personal identity and universal meaning.

Why “sakura”?

Sakura, or “cherry blossom,” is the epitome of the Japanese notion of transient beauty in the world, referred to as “mono no aware.” Beauty is not a fixed state of being as Westerners like to imagine it, purchasable and capturable and able to be clenched forever in one’s iron grip, but rather the fleeting transcience of moving life experienced in the Now by the heart and mind of the observer, simultaneously enjoyed and mourned as the moment passes.

The cherry blossom blooms for one week every year, and the beauty of experiencing that bloom and beauty is laced with the bittersweetness that it cannot be preserved for all time but only experienced while it lasts, and once it is gone, it is gone. The impending loss only makes the beauty of the moment more precious.

I have watched decades of my life pass by, one chapter closing while another begins; I watch my own children grow, thrive, age, prepare to leave home; I watch relationships swell and change across the years, sometimes deepening and sometimes ebbing, but all with the underlying awareness and poignancy that nothing in this world lasts forever nor should it.

(As Persephone in “The Matrix Reloaded” murmurs about the love between Neo and Trinity she momentarily is permitted to taste, “I envy you. But such a thing is not meant to last.” Yes, everything that has a beginning also has an end… and it is the ride itself that must be savored, knowing the end will one day come, rather than any comforting illusion of permanence.)

Ironically, I postponed restarting my blog for months due to lack of a name, and only stumbled upon this concept when a new friend described to me a large tattoo she wanted to get running down the side of her torso — a meandering branch of cherry blossoms. When I asked her why, she told me to look it up. I did, and was stunned. She likely had no idea that I have written about the bittersweetness of impernanence as a life theme before, as much as I had no idea that the concept itself even had been formalized into the epitome of aesthetics for an entire culture.

It was a remarkable feeling to realize that my lifelong experience of impermanence’s beautiful ache was something that others in this world had routinely tasted as well. And to comprehend at last that one’s own identity, as well as any search for the divine, is not a goal to arrive at and maintain but instead an ongoing journey experienced in the here and now. We are not snapshots to be placed in a photo album and stacked on the bookshelf, perfectly defined, but instead we are the moving river, the curling snow, the swirling cloud, dancing a path like a child skipping from one rock to the next without care of where one might end up.

“Mono no aware” has defined my life; and as I walk through this world, I can imagine pink and white cherry blossoms fluttering down about me in gentle rain, to lodge in my hair, cushion my feet, and lace the air with their momentary wistful fragrance.

  1. #1 by Kumiko on April 4, 2014 - 8:31 pm

    Beautifully written. You captured the true meaning of this song perfectly as it applies to life. I lost my beloved Japanese mother a year ago to a brain aneurysm. She was a vibrant beautiful lady who didn’t look.close to her 72 years of age. A month to the day of her passing, I was diagnosed with two brain aneurysms. I was 45. We had recently learned that my grandmother Iijima had also passed from the same condition in 1966. I was the third generation. I can still hear my mother singing this song to me going all the way back to my earliest memories. My father said I had to have been around 2½ years old when I described the first memory. She sang it to my first grandchild a month before she passed when he was born. Her urn is decorated with Japanese maple leaves and cherry blossoms. What’s strange is I just came from my son’s 7th grade orchestra performance this evening. They played Sakura, Sakura. My aunt had to hold the video camera because I was crying so hard. It was such a release. My son had kept it a secret. He told me he hears here singing in his ear every time he plays. She would always hum to his music. Now I am here reading your beautiful blog. I thank you for it with all of my heart in honor of my mother, Mitsuko Iijima Schafer.

    • #2 by Jennifer on April 10, 2014 - 1:52 pm

      Kumiko, thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I wish I had more words for what to say, but maybe the silence is part of seeing everything and embracing it… i envision sitting here with you as the petals drift down around us, just looking into the sky together and experiencing the same moment in time. (We are both the same age, I lost my father last year, he was 71.) Your son is a lovely person. I hope you will always hear that music in your heart and experience that calming center of peace, in the scent of the blossoms. ~Jennifer

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