Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, a Zen teacher in New York City, taught me about the significance of cherry blossoms in Asian culture.

“The Japanese see cherry blossoms as a symbol of our lives,” Roshi explained. “They come at the very early part of the spring, when it’s cold. Their beauty makes you want to cry.”

I thought of how much I love meditating beneath the cherry blossoms in my front yard.

“One of the reasons why we cry is that these blossoms are so ephemeral,” Roshi continued. “They will fall,” she said simply. “And to watch the cherry blossoms fall is like watching ourselves die. We start off young and beautiful. Then we become middle-aged and beautiful in a different way. Eventually we’re old and beautiful, and finally we’re dead and beautiful.”