Friday, 13 November 2015


Well it sure has been awhile since type has graced the pages of this blog. Life and all its hurries and worries have gotten in the way of my writing. It is a grief that lingers in the recesses of my mind that I have pushed the joy of writing, hearing that click clack sound as fingers fly over the keys, so far in to the background of my life. I could go on making excuses, but they would sound hollow and mundane. The fault lies within me, and my own sets of priorities. I could put pressure on myself, make promises that I will write more, but all in all, I am probably setting myself up for failure. So no promises, just hopefulness.

But what has inspired me to write today, after all this time, was a little something I came across on the internet. It was a short phrase. Mono-no-aware. Now the funny thing is, I was looking up the symptoms of mono (I have a tired teenager) but had made a spelling error or something of the sort, and I'm not really sure why it came up, but hence there it was. So I clicked on it, thinking "oh, it must mean being aware you have mono" or something like that. But it wasn't. And it gave me pause. The meaning of mono-no-aware is as follows:

Mono-no-aware means literally “the pathos of things”, also translated as “an empathy toward things”, or “a sensitivity to ephemera”, a Japanese term used to describe the awareness of impermanence, or the transience of things, and a gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing.

The reason this was so profound for me, is that I have never been able to put in to words that feeling I get when I am in nature. That intense awareness that brings such joy but also sadness. I remember once being in the woods with my son when he was really young. We were living on a small island in the Georgia Strait off the Coast of Sechelt, at the time, and it was a beautiful stormy day, just how I like them. It was windy, with dark clouds building on the horizon, white frothy waves on the ocean and we were surrounded by all these arbutus trees, giant cedars and firs towering towards the sky. And we were all alone in this place. The sheer immenseness of this feeling made me cry. He asked me why I was crying and I told him that the beauty made me sad. I can only imagine what he must have thought. Mom's lost her mind, or something of that nature, but honestly, there is no other feeling like that joy that is touched by sorrow. The sorrow at the realization that this doesn't last. You can't hang on to it because you know it will pass. So when I came across this phrase all these years later, I felt that thrill at seeing in words something that explains feelings I experience so frequently. That gentle sadness (wistfulness) at their passing. Beautiful.

And that's how I felt a few weeks ago, travelling the Cabot Trail for the Autumn Colors. What tremendous beauty.  As Alexander Graham Bell so eloquently said so many years ago, "I travelled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps, and the Highlands of Scotland; but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all." And his words ring true. When I saw the colors of the hillsides as they plunged in to the Atlantic below, I was in awe. I was joyful, yet sad. Wistful. Wanting to cling to a moment, a feeling. And there was also that awareness of being so small, in such a vast existence of beauty, time, space.

I took this trip to Cape Breton with my elderly parents. I have always wanted them to see this beautiful place for themselves as one can't really put it in to words how it looks and feels, and pictures can't encompass the beauty either. This trip was monumental for me in the fact that it brought me feelings of nostalgia, of wanting to grasp the moment. I remembered taking trips with my parents as a little girl, my father behind the wheel, mom in the front, a bag of candies between them. They would make me a bed in the big back seat (we didn't worry about seatbelts then) and I would snuggle in as we embarked on our journeys, always leaving early, before the sun came up, "so we could beat rush hour in Seattle", as my father would say. It was a magical time for a little girl. It felt like an adventure to things unknown. And as I grew older, I would don my headphones and listen to my music, a teenager now, almost too cool to travel with Mom and Dad. Almost, but not quite. The Oregon Coast was our usual destination then, or California, the Pacific Ocean and the Redwoods. It was these journeys that instilled in me the spirit to always want to see what's around the next bend. So when we took this trip to Cape Breton together this past October , it was a time of not only nostalgia, but of the passing of life. I'm a grown woman now, my children are in the backseat and my father rides in the passenger seat now. My husband is now the father behind the wheel, taking us on our journeys. When I reach out and grab my mothers hand in the backseat and feel her soft skin as we take in the beauty around us together, I can, for a moment, feel like a little girl again. And as the leaves fall from the trees and the stark empty branches are silhouetted against a winter's cold, clear sky, we are reminded that it is fleeting. From the greens and newness of the leaves of spring, to the long days of summer, the decay and aging of fall, and the coldness of winter, such is life.

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