This past spring, I had the pleasure to rediscover the cherry tree and it's amazing spectacle of blossoms. As we sat immersed under these trees, I was amazed at the amount of people crowding around doing exactly as we were. Sitting, marveling and enjoying the day. Being with loved ones in joy and peace. Hundreds of people experiencing joy all at once ❤.
As you may already know, Hanami is a festival that the Japanese culture have celebrated for thousands of years in honor of the cherry tree. The word itself is literally means flower viewing. People gather under the trees with family and friends to picnic and celebrate the blooms and start of spring. In the evening, lanterns are hung illuminating the blossoms and extending the viewing time. Every last minute is enjoyed and revered. Of course they are celebrating nature, the beauty of the trees and the start of spring, but this festival also celebrates vulnerability.
Cherry trees only bloom for about a week. Folks never know exactly when it will happen, so they are on edge waiting for blooms to open. Waiting on nature. Trying to predict, but never knowing for sure. Then all of a sudden they jump to, and start the celebration. Millions of people, waiting on the edge for the unpredictable.
The trees themselves are also a symbol of the fleeting nature of beauty. At the moment of perfection, the flower falls away only to compost at the base of the tree. Lasting for less than a week. Hundreds of trees put on an amazing display of color and beauty, but only for a moment.
All at the same time you can experience the beauty of the moment, and also grieve its loss. Waiting an entire year before you are able to experience it again. The stillness, the lighting, the cool breeze. So, do you allow sorrow? Or be fully present and experience the joy of the moment? I can't help but saying that any human will do a little of both. We can always try to protect ourselves, and "beat vulnerability to the punch" as Brene Brown says. We are always trying to protect ourselves. But if we are always worrying about what next, we miss out on right now. We miss out in the very moment of joy.
This is exactly what this entire festival is about. Celebrating the impermanence of beauty. That everything is temporary. The power of vulnerability. We are here living this life. Tomorrow, we may not be. That can be scary as hell. Of course we want to be with our loved ones, surrounded in joy and love. It's only natural to try and protect ourselves. But if we do so all the time, we are missing out on all of the beautiful moments in life. We miss out on right now.
For me, I went back to spend time with the cherry trees after the crowds had dispersed the next morning. The weather was less than ideal, but having quiet moments under a sea of blossoms was everything that I needed. It was filled with peace, love and joy. Blossoms were falling like rain, the air filled with a sweet scent and the song of birds sang loudly. In that moment, I wanted for it to last forever. Taking pictures to remember. But the pictures will never do that moment justice. For that, I had to be fully present with no camera in my hand. For that I had to sit, smell, listen and observe. And that picture will always be the most pertinent. The most beautiful. That picture is anchored in my body and my memory. One that I will never forget.
How can you be present in all of life's beauty without beating vunerability to the punch?
Let planning and life go for a moment. Breath deeply and anchor in your body. What do you hear? What do you smell? Where do you feel it in your body?
A favorite yoga teacher of mine used to say, "Let the outside world spin without you for a moment".
The important things will still be there waiting if you need them. I promise.
Allow joy and presence, again and again.