Mono no aware. That feeling you get when you realize time is fleeting.

Mono no aware

“The phrase is derived from the Japanese wordmono(?), which means “thing”, andaware(哀れ?), which was aHeian periodexpression of measured surprise (similar to “ah” or “oh”), translating roughly as “pathos”, “poignancy”, “deep feeling”, “sensitivity”, or “awareness”. Thus,mono no awarehas frequently been translated as “the ‘ahh-ness‘ of things”, life, and love.  

Awareness of the transience of all things heightens appreciation of their beauty, and evokes a gentle sadness at their passing.  

In his criticism ofThe Tale of GenjiMotoori noted thatmono no awareis the crucial emotion that moves readers. Its scope was not limited toJapanese literature, and became associated with Japanese cultural tradition (see alsosakura).[1]”


I find myself experiencing this feeling often lately.

“Emotional anniversaries” make me feel this way.

Recalling the company I held this time last year or the year before.

Remembering the beauty I saw and felt in them and with them.

Hoping they are well.

Completing my master’s degree makes me feel this way.

Oh, this multi-year journey has wrapped up. 

Ah, this is what embarking on a new adventure once more feels like. 

I am aware of being “new” at something once again. This is exactly one of the life lessons tango teaches me over and over again; being new to something is the most magical, wonderful, enchanting, absorbing thing to be.

Changing routines make me feel this way.

I sit in this here chair, knowing that I will not have to rise at 7am,

Or drive the same commute starting at 7:30 and not 5 minutes later,

Or open the shades in the classroom to let the natural light in,

Or pick up any trash or belongings left from the day before,

Or start the coffee pot,

Or hear the secretary charmingly tease teachers as she compliments how they look this morning,

Or greet each student who walks in with the world tuned out, headphones in, tired adolescent faces.

No, tonight I sit, not knowing what tomorrow’s routine will even be.

I sit and I miss all of these things that I will not do tomorrow.


Ahhhh, how transient these things are.

tale of genji

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