This blue marble

– and yet it spins

About cherry blossoms and the brevity of it all

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If there were no cherry blossoms in the world
My mind would be peaceful

(Fujiwara Norihira)

When cherries bloom, the Japanese celebrate the beauty and fleeting nature of life. Not life as a continued existence, or life as an eternal soul. But life as that short moment of seven days where a cherry blossom opens, blooms, and drops its petals to the ground like snowfall. Life that, after blooming, has yielded a fruit and another life.

We Westerners mostly celebrate life without including its end, whatever it may be. Death, or transit to rebirth, is always a separate subject for attention. Standing under the pink cherry blossom boughs I wondered how it would feel to celebrate life, including the brevity of life as we know it. And yet, most of the sakura poetry I have stumbled upon is concerned with that brief moment when a cherry blossom petal falls to the ground. Life is uncertain, and the petal knows no more of its destiny than do we humans of our own fates.

A fallen blossom
Returning to the bough, I thought –
But no, a butterfly

(Arakida Moritake)

(Hanami festival, Helsinki, Finland; May 2015)

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