On Monday, first of September, and official beginning of the "Back to School " season in the city. Late Summer and Autumn - fresh plums, berries, pumpkin soups and roasted chestnuts, cinammon hot chocolates and long, candle-lit evenings. Of course, I already wrote about it, repeatedly, every year. This year, I would like to pause, and think about contemplation and gratitude.
The notion of enjoying each season's blessing is very present and vibrant in the japanese culture, and I remember being in awe at all the little ways they celebrate them - in Autumn, it is the celebration of the Momiji, the red leaves, the warmer, dimmer Autumn light, full moons, mushrooms...
Suddenly, shops decorations are red with maple leaves, restaurants offer seasonal produce in an ad-hoc presentation - we have much to learn from Japanese about food presentation - friends go take a walk in parks, even at the heart of Tôkyô, where gardeners have so planned the vegetation that all is red in Autumn - as much as all is pink in Spring. There was such a small park near the restaurant I used to work at in Ginza. Sometimes, I would come in early and take a long walk, enjoying the fleeting beauty of red painted trees, and have a traditional green tea in a small caban in the middle of a small lake.
Because that's what seasonal appreciation is about - it isn't only about decoration, changing the painting and flower arrangement inside the small tokonoma display space of the traditional japanese room, and serving food in a red leaf ornated plate. It is about being grateful for the fleeting blessings of the seasons, it is about remembering that all things are impermanent, Mujô, and that we should enjoy what we have while it lasts, for it could be taken away in a moment's notice. A wind blow and all leaves scatter the floor. But that's alright too, because times change, and dead leaves will be replaced by other seasonal blessings to enjoy.
Be grateful for the present's blessings, do not regret things past, and be hopeful for future joys. There is a time for everything. Such wisdom we should keep in mind, to slow down and enjoy the blessings of life while they last, instead of running after the next perfect purchase and promise for future, ever elusive happiness.