The most beautiful things in life are often here one moment and gone the next. A Sunrise or a sunset, a shooting star, a child’s laugh, a first kiss. But is life itself not the same? So precious, yet precarious. So overwhelmingly beautiful, yet so tragically short.
In Japan, the cherry blossom symbolizes the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. They fall to the ground almost as swiftly as they bloom, providing a perfect analogy for the intensity and ephemerality of our lives.
An ageless metaphor for human existence.
Each year the Japanese people closely anticipate and monitor the blossoming of the trees. Filling TV broadcasts with predictions and updates. When the flowers finally burst from their buds, they celebrate their New Year with festivals, food, dance, and music, and partake in special cherry blossom viewings known as “hanami”.
Students take a half or even full day off from school to attend. Neighborhoods organize viewings. Companies send their interns to grab a spot for a corporate picnic beneath the pink clouds.
The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japan dates back hundreds of years. They’ve been used to motivate the people of the country, to stoke nationalism, as a symbol of the samurai, and as a symbol of hope during tragedies. They were even given to World War II kamikaze pilots for courage as they embarked on their one-way missions.
It’s no wonder this beautiful flower is now so strongly associated with their culture.
I have long admired the views and insights of the Japanese. Tied to the Buddhist themes of mortality, mindfulness, and living in the present, these flowers are undoubtedly more than just a pretty sight.
When the people of Japan come together to stand in awe of their beauty, they are reflecting on the deeper meaning, the cultural tradition, their own lives, and the lives of others. To me, this is more beautiful than any flower on the planet.
Let this Spring remind us to look at our own lives with a sense of wonder, and to take absolute pleasure in the simplest of moments.
Driving with the windows down, singing together, watching the stars or a stunning sunset, enjoying home cooked meals with your family, petting your dog or cat, finishing a project, making someone smile, or holding hands with a loved one.
Let the cherry blossom remind us to be present and revel in life, for it can be gone at any moment!