The Art of Impermanence

GOOD tea in a cherry blosso teacup on a table in my kitchen

Maybe because I’ve come down with a case of spring fever or perhaps because I have several friends venturing to Japan for spring photographic jaunts, either way recent thoughts have turned to cherry blossoms. Yes, my friends, it’s that time of year again. I do believe the cherry blossoms are just about going to start blooming in Japan (if they have not already) and, sadly, the experts advise us that the Washington DC blossoms are quite frail this year, possibly creating a shorter season but making an appearance now as well. This late winter snap has been especially cruel in Washington DC, taking its toll on the stateside blossoms. Perhaps even nature itself cannot stomach the ugliness of politics in my nation’s capital. Nevertheless, spring is dawning and it’s time for the blossoms to come forth yet again even if only for an abbreviated season.

Cherry blossoms are not restricted to Japan and Washington DC, of course. Actually, I have fond memories of a cherry tree in my backyard. As a child growing up, I took for granted, even disregarded the bright pink blossoms selectively appearing each springtime. Our cherry tree was actually a variety akin to a sort of a crab apple-the fruit was all but inedible, but this did not stop the array of pink blossoms dusting the yard each spring, as if to remind us cherry trees do more than just produce fruit. I believe too that I had on more than one occasion scraped my knee climbing said tree. Like I said, I was a foolish child and thought the tree more a nuisance than a blessing. Oh what wisdom I have gained over the years, right?

While cherry blossoms are quite usual and yes, I have been obsessing over them recently, the metaphoric significance has not been lost on me as well. Cherry blossoms represent impermanence. The Japanese poetry and haiku is an endless source of inspiration too, heck you don’t even need the pretty visuals to get inspired by this natural display. Some of the words and thoughts, writings and philosophizing make for beautiful inspiration for artists.

“Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers; but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms.” –Ikkyu

“The notion is called wabi-sabi life, like a cherry blossom, it is beautiful because of its impermanence, not in spite of it, more exquisite for the inevitability of loss.” Peggy Orenstein

I hope you can enjoy the cherry blossoms this year in your own little way. Even if you don’t live near the flowers, even if you never get to see the flowers, I sincerely hope you get out and photograph or maybe at least enjoy something as impermanent as a cherry blossoms. Life is short, flowers don’t happen all of the time, the world can be a very ugly place. We should all collectively enjoy it while it splendid, no?

Until next time…

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS on my kitchen table. It’s a cherry blossom tea cup with some white tea steeping so that I can clear my throat of my blasted allergies. Hey, I never said the blossoms were perfect now, did I? Achoo!

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