“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.