The Lesson of the Cherry Blossom

It’s Sakura Season in Japan and everyone is out and about, catching a glimpse of these fleeting, pink beauties cascading on the hills and lighting up riversides. Sakura is Japanese for cherry blossoms, which is Japan’s national flower and characteristic of Japan’s culture. Because they only last for about a week or so, there’s an intensity to them – engulfing the cities and parks and rivers in its overwhelming, ethereal beauty only to die quickly shortly thereafter. Hence all its metaphors to life, especially in Japanese historical poems and stories. There’s a haiku – a short form of poetry originally from Japan – written by the Japanese poet Issa that I recently discovered about cherry blossoms:

さすが花ちるにみれんはなかりけり
sasuga hana chiru ni miren wa nakari keri

Translated as:

When cherry blossoms
scatter…
no regrets

David Lanoue, a haiku translator and writer, delineates that Issa begins the haiku with the word sasuga: “truly” or “as one might have expected.” …He proposes that, “truly,” the cherry blossoms fall to death without regret.

This undated haiku resembles one that Issa wrote in 1821:

miren naku chiru mo sakura wa sakura kana

Without regret
they fall and scatter…
cherry blossoms

In such little words (hence a haiku) Issa’s haiku captures that intensity I mentioned, even making it metaphorical as they live during such an incredibly short period of time. But because it is so, it astounds the land with its relentless loveliness; one cannot help but notice it – whether they are akin to loveliness or not. And this poet also captures the essence of life’s true beauty: living life with no regrets.

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Thus, as I was standing in awe of these mysterious, quietly exquisite trees – a dream come true to say the least – intermittently showering me with its petals in the gentle breeze, I couldn’t help but think this: life is as ephemeral as these cherry blossoms – we must savor and make the most out of it because in a blink of an eye, life becomes nothing more than a dream. These cherry trees are a quiet reminder not to take life for granted, that in the grander scheme of things, our lives, too, are short; and because it is so, let us be like the cherry blossoms – let us live life with no regrets; let us say that we’ve lived life the best we can – in humility, joy, mercy, kindness, service, and love. We are the cherry trees of life after all – we can make the world a more beautiful place if we choose to, but it starts by becoming our best selves. That is the lesson of the cherry blossom for me. Indeed, life is short, I hope yours will have been a good one.

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Some of my favorite Sakura art/images from others:

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(From Ataliers Autonomes on Pinterest)

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Haiku and translation from:
http://haikuguy.com/issa/index.html

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