We have it wrong.
We bide our time waiting for that special moment...
The job promotion.
Life events that we believe will lead to idyllic happiness. And somehow, magically, we expect that feeling will freeze and stay with us forever.
I learned about the notion of Mono no Aware when I went to see the Japanese Garden in Fort Worth. I’ve consulted many sources on the internet trying to understand the concept and here is what I’ve come to understand:
It’s an awareness, a sadness or deep emotion, felt when we recognize the transient nature of people and things around us.
Japanese gardens are known for the serenity they create in us. They are simple and deliberate in their design, featuring maples, magnolias, bamboo and bridges over koi ponds. Instead of merely observing these gardens, they’re meant to be experienced and they’re known for instilling a tranquil mood in the visitor.
Various shades of green leaves soothe and rippling water pacifies. Flowers, with their bold bright colors, are not welcome here. Cherry blossoms are an exception. In the spring, for two weeks only, these pale pink flowers bloom in abundance. And when people describe what Mono no Aware means, they point to this flower and its short season.
Our lives change constantly and most of us live in denial, believing that we can reach a state of happiness once some event occurs or some person enters our lives. Mono no Aware is a acknowledgement that suffering occurs because we fail to recognize that things and people that we love will leave us.
It’s a declaration that fragility and brevity are fundamental to our appreciation. It’s a bittersweet feeling, a recognition that our time with our friends, family, is short.
What if you knew, and accepted, that every relationship, every job, every object had a ‘expiration date’.
Your favorite car will eventually fall apart.
Your college friends will lose touch with you.
The blossoms from your beloved cherry tree will fall to the ground and drift away
Your loved one will die.
Everything comes to an end.
So shouldn’t we love more extravagantly?
Wildly appreciate our friends?
Derive the greatest joy from our treasured possessions?
It’s a lesson and the cherry tree blooms every year to remind us.