Mono no aware: How this tropical girl learned to appreciate winter

As the best of the English weather I’ll experience in my stay here has come and gone, I reflect upon how this tropical girl actually learned to appreciate the temperate climate and four seasons. Spring made winter worth it. 😊 The reward was not just in seeing when the flowers had already bloomed, as much as seeing life unfolding. Little leaves starting to come out of bare branches fascinated me more than a manicured sea of tulips (though that was really pretty too). When I moved in in September last year, I was happy to have huge windows in my room, looking out to mostly gray and rainy weather in those first weeks, and trees that didn’t look particularly remarkable. A few months passed, and they shed their leaves, as trees do before winter. And for a few months, I was just looking at naked, seemingly lifeless branches. I noticed how the tree had grown little balls/bulbs, and they just hung out there for a quite a while, not really giving me any indication of what they could become. Suddenly, after all this gestating, those little balls/bulbs began to burst open to reveal cherry blossoms! (Like that awkward, unassuming classmate you had in elementary who is now like a nobel-prize-winning something, and hot too.) I could not believe I had a cherry blossom tree right outside my window this whole time, and I would just be so happy whenever I woke up and saw that view in those few, fleeting weeks.

Cherry blossoms embody the Japanese concept of “mono no aware”, the “pathos of things”, or an awareness of impermanence.

Now, I look at the tree in front of me, traces of its transient cherry blossom past long gone, replaced by green leaves, which will soon fall too, and soon enough, grow new life again.

Both joy and sadness are fleeting, and all we can do is live our lives as best as we can, not regretting the past or uselessly anxious about the future, but making each day count, and recognize the potential we have inside us, just waiting to come out. 😊

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