Mono No Aware

 

 

“Mono-no aware: the ephemeral nature of life – the quietly elated, bittersweet feeling of having been witness to the dazzling circus of life – knowing that none of it can last…” – Wiki

It’s a melancholy appreciation for the transience of life, the love of the fleetingness of a single moment that, once occurring, can never truly happen again. That people grow, change, and as such, nothing is permanent. It’s a word derived from Japanese culture that speaks in large part to the appreciation that nothing last’s forever. Even their buildings and culture are created around the idea that there is something more than a simple structure, that there is a greater spirit that carries on a legacy even after the wood has warped, or the stone has crumbled. When this happens, there will come a day when a “hello” will be the last “hello” and a “goodbye” will be the last “goodbye”.

We all have knowledge of these things, coming to us from bittersweet memories that cling like spiky seed pods to clothing.  We face these conflicts and decide what we want to do with them as arise. This state of happy it happened but sad it’s over.  It’s so easy to avoid these emotions, to distance ourselves from any given event, to deny the permanence of forward leaping time but the moment will come nonetheless.

There is something beautiful about these ephemeral things. Would clouds be as wonderous if they never changed shape, or snowflake as magnificent if they didn’t melt when landing on your skin? We can appreciate them because we know what it was like before we had them and eventually learn what it’s like when they are gone.

It takes a lot of courage to face these moments head-on, to recognize there will be an end and keep going through the heartache that is likely to come.  A beautiful pain built on the temporary, with each person having to decide whether or not it was worth it in the end.

It’s only in accepting these feelings that we grow and change as people. If we try to hold to something long gone our knuckles will turn white by grasping at air and dust.  It’s not to forget but appreciate that sometimes some things have to end even if we aren’t ready. It’s death and disappearance,  two things we fight so hard against, are inevitable, but in learning to embrace them we glimpse the beautiful bittersweet appreciation of what can happen after.

A Warm Umbridaled Feeling Of Nothing

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It was a memory the spurred this conversation with myself.  A memory fished from far back in my brain, when coping with the disaster of my life led a realization of myself, a realization that still holds true today

It’s a paradox, rationalized over many years, I have a resistance to people touching me and a yearning to be touched.

I think this became apparent in middle school when I was still a very weird kid – wearing jackets into the heat of California summers. If you asked why a kid would do something like that would probably put on some bravado about being able to withstand the heat.  I liked the warmth, the cloth wrapping my body in a gentle embrace, reflecting the heat I generated back at me. In some way, it felt like being held, being saved from the world and all its evils. It was a proxy for touch, a segregate for being hugged, not that I didn’t get attention from my parents but I just became so wrapped up in these walls I built so high that I wanted someone to come in and break them down.

I don’t know what would have changed someone had intervened at that stage but even to this point, you’ll hardly ever see me wearing shorts as they make me feel uncomfortable. I love touch though, at least from the people I feel comfortable enough to touch me. Almost to the point of fetishism, I obsess over it, derive so much meaning out of it, to the point that the meaning becomes so distorted that it doesn’t even resemble the intention behind it.

What does touch feel like to me?  Well if done right, it feels like the moment of creation, where everything comes into being and life is born.  It feels like a transference of soul and sharing of self. Like spring of sweet serenity that washes over me. It’s so singular and yet so poignant, so particularly focused on the beauty of the moment that lasts forever and yet dissipates so quickly. With these feelings so concentrated on the experience of touch, touches that are unwelcome become equally horrendous to an experience.

I am not saying these things are good, I know they are not but it’s where I am at.  With that realization years ago, about the sensitivity of being in my own skin, I found that I needed to change. Acclimate to a space where I don’t place so much emphasis on touch and being touched. I have made progress but have yet to solve the problem.

I am sure in the future I will come much closer to my goal, but for now, I will appreciate that magic touch can bring and use all my strength to make the miraculous ultimately mundane.