Mono No Aware, or slowing down to seize the moment, with care.

There are moments in life that seem so perfect, so beautiful, that you want to seize them, perhaps re-create them. Yet that very beauty lies in its ephemeral nature, at its most potent the moment before it disappears.

The only thing to do is slow down. Enjoy that moment, putting all else aside.

This isn’t a carpe diem situation. It’s not about seizing the day and squeezing every last bit of it. In fact it’s quite the opposite. To me it’s about letting this beautiful moment carry you, until it’s almost done, at which point you must leave it before its spell is broken.

This happens most often to me in the far west, and indeed a couple of times at the weekend at Tregiffian, where we spent two nights in the rather special holiday cottage called Myn Tea.

Both times I had the experience to just ignore everything that was pressing for attention, and go with the moment.

One was a walk with my mother. At 83 Peggy is still fit, but I’m aware of the importance of the good days. We sat a long while on a bench having walked the north cliffs near Hells Mouth, the sun was setting on a perfect calm sea, and we talked of not much at all. The moment was beyond beauty.

North Cliffs, with mother.

The second was sitting on the balcony of Myn Tea on Friday evening. It had been a hot and busy day, but now all was calm. My beer had run out, we were due to go to visit Rosanna at Tregiffian Farmhouse, but to think of either would have upset the perfect calm of that part of the evening, so I sat awhile, and felt lifted, spiritual in a secular kinda way.

Gwenver July morning

I was thinking of these simple, yet profound experiences as I came across the perfect expression, albeit Japanese. To my understanding mono no aware is exactly what I’m trying to describe. Online it’s translated as the pathos of things, or an awareness of things, but it’s the situations that it’s used to describe that have convinced me. It seems to be about the extreme beauty of a moment being at it’s greatest just before the moment disappears.

Or as one lovely friend who stayed with her family at Myn Tea last Christmas put it: “Drench yourself in the moment so it seeps through to your middle and becomes part of who you are”.

Creating space for moments of mono no aware. It’s with this in mind that I’m determined one day to create a holiday space with minimal distractions. At the moment both Myn Tea and New Forge are loaded with wonderful books, music and both have modern televisions. If I could create the perfect space it might have none of these, just a view. Would it be even more dramatic to have just one book, one CD?

What would yours be?

While you contemplate what your choice would be, do look out for those occasions of mono no aware. And I’ll look out for a Japanese friend who can explain whether or not I have it all wrong!