Ichi Go Ichi E 期 会
For this time only, we are as we are. We can never recreate the exact moment we inhabit, and the precise nature of any contact we share within its space is impossible to replicate no matter how many times the contact might happen again. The unrepeatable nature of a single encounter is the concept expressed in Japanese by ichi go ichi e: “one time, one meeting”.
Life is a succession of incomparable moments and with the passage of each one, we are never the same. The uniqueness of each interaction within every transient instant is a gift of discovery and rediscovery. It allows us to fall in love again and again with the people who mean the world to us; it keeps us surprising and challenging each other; and it allows us to change and to adapt as we grow together or into our own. With every new encounter comes a singular opportunity that can set us on a trajectory we might
never have otherwise found. We might take up a path that becomes a lifelong journey because of something someone saw in us in a particular instant that might have been gone in the next. We will never know the full impact of any brush we have with another person; we can only accept the ensuing opportunity and follow the path it opens before us.
As we walk the budo path, every encounter we have offers us an ephemeral glimpse into the people who walk with us. There may be a juncture when someone’s guard comes down and we see something they would normally keep hidden away. There may be a flash of intimacy in a snapshot of emotion, or a shock of passion that reveals a fire we never knew they harbored. There may be an instant when someone becomes a warrior in the thick of battle and another when they fall wounded in the aftermath.
In a moment we can empathize with predecessors to understand lessons that once confounded us, and in the next we can become the teachers someone else needs. There is limitless potential in every exchange, and we must approach each one with an open heart, understanding that the insight it offers is merely a drop in an ever-expanding ocean. We must also bring our best intent to every exchange to foster positive ripple effects.
At times like the present when much of life seems to have come to a standstill, it can be difficult to see the time we have as precious and to give our best to the world in the limited encounters we are allowed. This is the active challenge we all face: not to waste this time, rather to accept the lessons it affords us, to appreciate the opportunity therein, and to nurture the energy we hope to project when it will once again attain a farther reach. On looking back, what we remember most vividly from any period in our lives are not the circumstances that surrounded it, but the things that made us who we were at
the time: who was important to us, what occupied our thoughts and how we felt in our hearts. This is a reminder not to forfeit the time we have now because it will inevitably turn to memory and one day, through the lens of nostalgia, a part of us will wish we could feel this way again.
Everything we experience in life is for one time only. Understanding this helps us find the strength we need to pull through difficult times, and it reminds us to cherish what joys we have while we can. All that we are in the here and now is fleeting and life as we know it, including everyone who comprises our world, can change on the whim of a moment. For this reason, we must appreciate each moment granted us because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.