“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.
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.