From ancient times to the present, the Japanese people have celebrated the beauty of the seasons and the poignancy of their inevitable evanescence. This sensitivity to seasonal change is an important part of Shinto, Japan’s native belief system. Since ancient times, Shinto has focused on the cycles of the earth and the annual agrarian calendar. A distinctive Japanese convention is to depict a single environment transitioning from spring to summer to autumn to winter in one painting, as in this picture.
In this way, Japanese painters expressed not only their fondness for this natural cycle but also captured an awareness of the inevitability of change, a fundamental Buddhist concept.
In the Book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8) we read this well-known text…
For everything its season, and for every activity under heaven its time: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to seek and a time to lose, a time for silence and a time for speech, a time for war and a time for peace. God has made everything to suit its time.
Just as we see seasonal change in the environment, in the world we live in, so too are our lives seasonal and changeable.
I have come to discover that my sense of identity, my self-image, my place in our society is not static, but constantly, albeit slowly, changing and evolving. It has been an equally slow and difficult lesson to accept that a significant part of the question I ask myself “who am I?” is, in fact, not a static and defined thing. Who I am is, rather, someone is always becoming.
This blog is my the reflections I have considered about identity, especially my own over recent years, and how these sense of self might find expression today and in all my tomorrows.
Join me as together we travel a road less travelled.
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