On the Pathos of Things


(CHERRY Blossoms) Classic symbol of “mono no aware.” (Image sourced from Google.)

A line from my friend J.’s blog post for today:

“Love feels funny, doesn’t it. It is felt by and in the body: a sharp, quiet pain that radiates from the center of your chest, creeping up to squeeze your throat so you are made mute, filling your eyes so you are made blind. If only for a moment we are as we are. “

J.’s phrase about the “sharp, quiet pain” rings true. My most vivid memories of happiness contain an undercurrent of desolation: a wistful melancholy that comes from knowing that the moment cannot last. Some of my friends used to ridicule me for this hypersensitivity, until I discovered that the Japanese share this sensibility as well in a notion beautifully captured by the phrase “mono no aware” (literally, “the pathos of things”).

It is entirely possible to grieve for things at the same time that we celebrate them. It’s precisely the impermanence of things that makes them so precious.

May I live always from that knowledge.

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2 thoughts on “On the Pathos of Things

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