look up, look around
Growing up, one of Michael's favorite side trips was going to the Vermont Country Store. They have everything there, including penny candy that is no longer a penny, like Bit-O-Honey, root beer barrels, and licorice string.
It's located on Route 100 in the small town of Weston, Vermont. Michael's mom loved the drive during the fall foliage, but he never understood her desire to look up at the trees until he got a little wiser.
Mono-no-aware is a Japanese concept that is hard to translate. It's about impermanence and "the ahhness of things." It helps us see the never-ending stream of change and heights of our ability to enjoy life by appreciating its fleeting moments like the bursting oranges, yellows, and reds of autumn and the soft pink cherry blossoms this time of year.
As a parent, Michael tried, although he was far from perfect, to ground himself in mono-no-aware and soak in those quiet moments when his girls fell asleep on his chest and even their teenage years that pushed his limits. It helped him stay present because he knew that the years would fly by even when the days were long.
Today we have more grabbing at our attention than ever, which is why embracing mono-no-aware is essential. It's so easy to velcro ourselves to how things are or used to be instead of understanding that everything is constantly changing - it's the beauty of life. There is no "normal"; there's only now.
A person doesn't step into the same river twice.
Recently Michael was in Italy for a retreat with thirty other folks from New Zealand to Newport for a week. The first day they started to get to know each other - the room was full of the energy of curiosity, nervousness, and like-heartedness. After a few days, it felt different because, like nature, we are always changing - including him. He's not sure how he will be different, but through shared moments during the week, he had faith that the experience will enrich his life.
One of his meditation teachers, Jon Kabat-Zinn, said, "We only have moments to live." It's so true. Our lives are a collection of moments to be appreciated because the beautiful experience in them will never be the same. And that's more than okay because new people, experiences, and beauty will arrive in the next moment, but if we rush around like a hamster on its wheel, it's hard to see because our view never changes.
So, look up; there's beauty all around you. You don't want to miss seeing it.