Yūgen: When the birds fly behind the clouds
Learned about a new Japanese word yesterday.
As with many Japanese words the translation gets blurred when it comes to English.
But I understood it as the feeling you get when you watch a flock of birds fly behind a cloud.
In the sky one moment, gone the next.
And you imagine whether they’re continuing as they were behind the clouds.
Or when you’re watching a ship travel across the ocean and it disappears behind an island.
Or see a pretty girl in the street and then she walks around the corner.
Or when you wave your partner goodbye and watch them drive off.
When the sun sinks behind the flowers.
Where did it go?
Your imagination ignites.
Perhaps you feel a feeling of sadness for what’s gone, excitement for what’s happening next, a slight confusion or grounded on the bedrock of change.
I remember playing a game when I was a child trying to catch the fridge light.
I’d open and close the fridge door to see if the light really turned off when I closed the door.
Each time getting more and more curious but never really grasping whether it did or not.
To me, that’s the feeling of Yūgen.
A word for describing the aesthetics of wonder.
The strange gap between knowing and unknowing.