KINTSUGI 金継ぎ (Golden Joinery)
January 7, 2019
GAMAN我慢: Enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.
January 15, 2021

SHIKATA GA NAI 仕方が無い (Letting Go!)

SHIKATA GA NAI 仕方が無い ("Letting Go!")

Every Spring in Japan, people gather in multitudes to view the blossoming of the Japanese cherry trees. Hanami, (literally meaning "flower watching") is a time honored tradition where family and friends take time to witness and admire the cherry blossoms at the height of their glory.  Lasting around two weeks, the blossoms' time on earth is fleeting--just like the person who admires them.  As the delicate petals unburden themselves and fall gently from the tree, it serves as a metaphor for human existence:  our fragility, mortality, and the mindfulness of our ability to choose how we want to live in each moment of our life. 

Even in the short life span of a cherry blossom, it is quite aware of its nature and purpose.  It doesn't struggle or fight to remain on the branch--it has a knowing when certain conditions arise, that it is time to let go and it does so effortlessly and quite beautifully.  We can learn a great deal from the life of cherry blossoms. 

In our human life, sometimes "stuff" happens.  We get stuck in traffic, we make a mistake at work, we let someone down, we get sick, we miss out on a great opportunity, the Seahawks lose!  Being Japanese, I was raised to deal with such challenging situations by saying, "Shikata ga nai".   

Shikata ga nai is a common saying and attitude embedded in the minds of generations of Japanese as a way to endure uncomfortable situations.  The essence of this saying means, "It cannot be helped," such that one must accept what one cannot change and to let it roll off one's back.  However, this often is misconstrued as an excuse to do nothing or to be complacent.

When you find yourself in situations that you can't control, it is tempting to torture or blame yourself, fixate on what went wrong, ignore it, or to try to fix or to make something work that was truly not meant to be.  In doing so, we create our own suffering through our attachment to control.  So, instead of the traditional meaning of Shikata ga nai, "It cannot be helped," consider a new definition:  "Letting Go!"

As we head into 2020, I hope that you'll become more like the cherry blossoms.  Unburden yourself of any negative thoughts, feelings, expectations, and yes, sometimes even people, that hold you back from having the happiest most joyful life.  You can then change the direction of your whole life just by simply changing your mindset.  It is from that place that you'll find freedom--freeing yourself to make more conscious, productive and happy choices.