How to Make an Unknown Future Feel a Little Less Daunting

How sakura season helps me find comfort in an unknown future

It’s springtime in Japan, which means it’s time for me to talk about cherry blossoms, or sakura.

It’s funny, because for any Japanese person working within the realm of food, entertainment, or leisure, it almost feels like a requirement to acknowledge and honor the tradition of sakura in the spring.

Shops begin to decorate their windows with sakura ornaments, and even convenience stores like 7–11 begin to adorn their shop windows with ads and images of sakura. Magazines publish their annual “Best Places to See Sakura in Japan” articles, and of course cafes and restaurants release their limited edition sakura-flavored sweets and drinks, the most traditional of which is sakura mochi, but recently expanding into inventions like the sakura latte or sakura honey.

What a cherry blossom tree represents in Japan

Sakura definitely has its commercial purposes, but its celebration has very strong ties with important memories for many Japanese people. It falls in line with the end of the Japanese school term, and particularly for graduating seniors, there is a strong sense of accomplishment and joy, mixed with a bit of melancholy. Many people also begin new careers at this point, and so sakura season is often associated with turning points, endings, and fresh beginnings.

Generation after generation, the springtime always carries this same meaning. The younger people might find the changes bittersweet and daunting, the older generations might reflect on those times with nostalgia. But almost everyone regards those blossoms with a sense of wonder — what will the future hold for me?

I bought my annual sakura mochi this week, and then went on a leisurely stroll outside to observe the sakura trees blooming alongside a local river. A few couples, some mother-daughter duos, a small friend group, and solo walkers lined the banks, each deep in their own thoughts for what the coming year will bring.

What will my new job be like? Am I in the right job right now?

Will I like my new school? Should I change my degree?

Will I be able to make good friends? Will things change for me this year?

The good times pass as do the bad days, and the beautiful moments can be just as fleeting as the unremarkable ones.

Remind yourself, life moves in moments

There is something so comforting about seeing the sakuras bloom and watching the people out and about, observing the flowers with contemplation. Every year the flowers all rush to open at once, and then fall collectively into a carpet over a matter of days, and every season it is mesmerizing.

Beautiful of course, but this natural phenomenon is so memorable for a lot of people because it reminds them that like the sakura, life moves in moments.

The good times pass as do the bad days, and the beautiful moments can be just as fleeting as the unremarkable ones. Sakura season is a time when people begin to collectively reflect and grapple with similar questions about their wonder about the future — sometimes it’s characterized by nerves and excitement, other times sadness — but it’s a refreshing reminder that everything in life is always temporary.

So remind yourself that whatever the future may bring, it will be temporary: the good, the bad, the terrible, the wonderful. Perhaps then, an unknown future is best dealt with more time in the present moment.

Born in Dallas, raised in New York and Tokyo. I care about helping others learn to live a better, healthier life. My site: 🌱

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