Sacred Life Sundays :: Life in every breath


Tuesday night, on the way back from my ceramics class, it was very dark, and raining really heavily. I mean, it was chucking it down. So I was walking down my street quickly, hood pulled up over my head and tightened so that only my eyes were visible. Suddenly as I was walking, I smelled a sweet scent in the air, which went as quickly as it came. I backed up a bit until I smelt it again, and realised it was coming from this bush. I was sure it was all just twigs, but upon closer inspection, I saw that some small cherry blossom buds were ready to bloom, with a few ready opened ones sprinkled about. And you know what, this really made my day! It was just unexpected, and made me so happy to think that soon all the spring blossoms would bloom. You see, I have a little soft spot for these tiny blossoms.

One of my favourite memories of when I was younger was when it was springtime, and me and my brother and friends would be playing in the small field behind our big block of flats. There was this huge cherry blossom tree, bigger than any I've seen since (or this could be a 6yr olds perception, lol). I would climb this tree, as I was the only one who could and I loved to climb trees, and sit on the branches and shake them so that all the delicate pastel pink petals would fall like snow, the others looking up and and twirling around while it all fell around them. It felt really magical, up high in the air surrounded by clusters of blushing blossoms smelling sweetly, while making springtime snow for my friends to play in. Childhood memories eh?! Good times.

One of my favourite films, The Last Samurai, uses cherry blossom for symbolic imagery. The film plays on the themes of honour, the delicacy of life, and Bushido. Bushido is literally translated as 'The Way of the Warrior', and was a code of conduct for Japan's Samurai warrior caste. The samurai moral code and stressed frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honour until death. The life of a samurai was short lived and brutal. Their lives were chiefly concerned with death, and most importantly a death held with dignity. The cherry blossom became a symbol of the samurai - beauty in death. The samurai's life of honour, duty, respect and courage was as delicate as a cherry blossom, and ended as quickly as the blossoms short few weeks display in the crisp springtime. When one of the main characters, a samurai, lies dying on the battlefield in the arms of his friend, asking him help him end his life, the last image he sees is the fragile blossom petals falling from the tree in the gentle breeze, mirroring his own life being swept away in the wind.

My favourite line from this film comes from when the samurai tells his rival and soon-to-be ally about the ways of his people. Pointing to a blossom tree in the courtyard they stand, he says to him "Life in every breath. That is the way of the samurai."

What a beautiful line. And a powerful lesson for all of us. Even though at times we may feel insignificant, and as if our life is too short and pointless, remember what the cherry blossom teaches: That life, although delicate and swift, is to be treasured and celibrated in it's bittersweetness. So every time I pass a cherry blossom tree, as small voice inside my head reminds me . . .
Life in every breath.
Top image is my own, bottom image courtesy of GettyImages.

5 comments:

Spirit Whispers 8 March 2009 at 07:46  

love the sentiments... & fancy catching that scent on a night like that.

Hibiscus Moon 8 March 2009 at 09:04  

What a beautiful and inspirational post.

Jan 10 March 2009 at 07:05  

Haley,
What a lovely lovely post! I could just feel the joy of childhood climbing the cherry tree with magical petals raining down. Stunning writing! I appreciate you sharing the meaning of the cherry blossoms too in relate to the Samurai. I had no idea.

The photo you show at the bottom looks like the trees in the orchard right next to my house. Yes, our neighbors have a full-blow cherry orchard. I can hardly wait every year until the blossom are full and walk beneath rows and rows of tress, just absorbing their scent. I vow this year to have a special picture of my husband and myself, or my granddaughter and myself, taken under their sheltering branches. You made me think of spring today. Thank you!

Haley @ Iridescent Dark 10 March 2009 at 11:32  

Spirit Whispers: Yeah it was lucky! It was mainly due to fact that I could barely see and nearly walked into it!

Hibiscus Moon: Thankyou, glad you liked it ;)

Jan: I'm glad I've enlightened you in the ways of the cherry blossom, lol ;). I'm so jealous you live next to an orchard of them! When you gte that picture, take some more and put them on the blog! Thanks x

Mesmer's Revenge 14 July 2010 at 16:58  

I just watched the last samurai, perhaps for the fourth or fifth time. My favourite scenes mostly take place in the village where he learns the way of the samurai and, of course, the last moments of Katsumoto...so beautiful.I don't know if you have ever listened to a guy called Eckhart Tolle but he has a way of making one aware of the only time any of us can be truly alive...this moment, right now. Lovely stuff Haley!

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