The title and story are inspired by the Old English word dustceawung, which reminded me of the Japanese concept of mono no aware.

I am an enormous language nerd, including studying both Old English and Japanese. So when I learned the Old English word “dustsceawung” it hit a lot of my nerd buttons at once!

Dustsceawung translates to “consideration of the dust”—thus the title of this novella! A quick Google will also give you glosses like “reflection upon former civilizations or peoples, or the knowledge that all things will become dust” and “contemplation of what has been lost & the transience of things.

This was cool to me on multiple levels, like the idea that humans are really made of stardust! But that mention of “the transience of things” also reminded me of the Japanese concept of mono no aware (物の哀れ).

If you’ve ever wondered about why cherry blossoms are such a cultural fixture in Japan, the answer is mono no aware: cherry blossoms bloom beautifully, but briefly. So people make a point of enjoying them while they can, because they know the blossoms won’t last.

Mono no aware translates… so many ways, from a more literal “an empathy toward things” to something like “the beauty of transience” and various other attempts to succinctly evoke the awareness and appreciation of the impermanent nature of life—much like contemplating the transience of things!

There’s a lot more to it than that, but seeing such similar concepts related to this cycle of life manifest in two different ways caught my imagination’s attention. So this is a theme I explore and thread all throughout Consider the Dust.

This story is very much about fighting for what other people consider insignificant, and what it means to value every speck of life for what it is, right now. I hope you enjoy it and that it kindles your imagination, too!

Read more: