Beauty in Sadness

Placing my hair I cut off in honor of Native American grandmother’s death to the Mystic River, I was greeted by two swans.

On river floating,

Wind guiding and met by swans,

The soul goes forward.

What better time to learn about the sadness of things and hedonism than when my grandmother dies, I break up with my girlfriend, and that I join a fraternity.  Before I knew it I felt like I was caught up hedonism’s ukiyo.  Ukiyo is pursuit of pleasure today, because we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow (Lecture 5/15).  If death could come at any moment then why not seek pleasure through fraternity life and parties?  While the idea is tempting, a fuzzy head every morning wasn’t very alluring.  If not partying, than how about romance?  Saikaku’s “The Woman Who Loved Love” represents the life of a woman living in a hedonistic world.  Her life is a pursuit of love and pleasure, which is represented by her actions as a courtesan.  She goes from man to man in attempts to satisfy herself.  In the end she is left alone, but makes the comment that men shouldn’t have wives, but could not live without them (Saikaku 199).  This struck me because this may explain why after breaking up with my girlfriend I’m already interested in someone else.  This pursuit of pleasure is easy to fall into, but it is tinged, if not driven by, with sadness.  An idea of the time was mono no aware (the sadness of things).  You suck, I suck, we all suck, and that’s ok (Lecture 5/15).  By realizing that everyone is powerless, has imperfections, and failures allows us to appreciate beauty better.  Without the sadness it would be hard to understand the joys and pleasures in life.  Life is evanescent and as a result is sorrowful, but this heightens the beauty of things, and in turn makes evanescent life beautiful (Inouye 85).  It is the sadness of my grandmother’s death that allows me to find such beauty in swans coming to me as I sent my hair down Mystic River.  It’s also the stress of academic life that makes a night at my fraternity that much better.  This awareness of sorrow, in a way, is an awareness of beauty and pleasure.

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