Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ichi-go Ichi-e

(Aw, great. She's abandoned English altogether.)

In Japanese, "Ichigo Ichie" is directly translated as "One time. One meeting." It's a figure of speech that means that every time you meet a person you meet a new spirit- and that meeting is the only one that you've got. It's kinda like when they say "you never step into the same river twice" except with people. All people. Friends from college, spouses, kids, parents, coworkers, whoever.

It's a philosophy we cherish in our house. Since Stephan is a nurse and I'm a massage therapist we meet a lot of people. And we use this concept to deal with them. If you consider that you've only got this one chance to love this specific person right now, you become more mindful about how you treat them. Every encounter becomes something sacred. On a good day, we even remember to act this way with each other.

It's a concept that values that a person is ever-changing. Since I stepped out of the room and back into it, I've had 12 thoughts, done 3 things, and changed purpose 2 times. When I come back to the kitchen, I'm a different person (in time) than I was a few minutes ago.

But isn't it really hard to not carry in your mind all the things a person used to be? I suspect it's harder for women. We tend to keep a mental list of a person's characteristics and refer back to it all the time. Or maybe that's just me. Which is why I have to frequently remember Ichigo Ichie. It demands forgiveness. It demands second chances (and thirds, and fourths...). It requires Grace.

When I think back on all the moments I've had with people, sometimes I'm honored. Sometimes I'm ashamed. Sometimes I'm just confused. When I think about all the big relationships I've ever had, and then over-lay those memories with the weight of One Time, One Meeting, a song pops into my head. A lyric specifically:

Oh, but if you could, do you think you would trade it all? All the pain and suffering? But then you would have missed the beauty of the Light upon this earth and the sweetness of the leaving.


Ali K. said...

I love this concept! It makes the idea of making amends and forgiveness much easier to swallow.

Annie Crow said...

What Ali said.

Plus, useful to me right now. My MIL is in crisis and no longer able to care for herself; "who she is" can change from minute to minute.