一期一会 (ichigoichie) this Japanese saying has really made an impact on my life in the last few years. When I first heard it on New Years Eve 2 years ago, I thought my friends had said ichigoichien (Strawberry, 1 yen) and it was more of a joke to me than something that would change my life. As time when on I realized that the saying was not strawberry-1 yen and I looked deeper into it and realized that it was something truly important and related to my life as I live it every day. If you throw the saying into google translate you get quite an odd translation: Forrest Gump. You might think to yourself, “Joe, why are you writing a post about Forrest Gump? I mean it’s a great movie, but we’ve all seen it.” Well lucky for all you movie buffs, I’m not writing about Forrest Gump. It’s taken me longer than I had intended to write this post, because I couldn’t come up with a simple way to describe the depth of the phrase. A quick internet search will give you these (and possibly many other) translations: once in a lifetime encounter, cherish the moment, special occasion, live every day as if it were your last, treasure every meeting, etc. You can see that they all relate in a way. I’ve spoken with countless Japanese people about the phrase, and at first they all say that it is easy to explain, and then as we continue talking they also come to realize that it’s difficult to explain because it can mean so many different things. So, I’ll do my best to describe it in a way that relates to me.
一期一会: Enjoy every moment you have with someone, because in reality, you’re never going to meet that person again. Even if you see someone in the morning, and then again that evening, you are not actually seeing the same person, because that person has changed throughout the day. They have had new experiences that have changed them and you have had new experiences that have changed you as well, and so you are both meeting each other again for the first time. We take our relationships for granted and we expect certain things from our friends and relatives. We expect them to be the same person day in and day out, we expect them to have the same opinions and feelings about things, and with that expectation in mind if something is different we tend to lean towards frustration, anger, and drama instead of acceptance. If instead we don’t have a preconceived notion about who that person was or is “supposed” to be, then we can more easily accept that this person has changed, and that we ourselves have changed as well.
There is obviously more to this saying, and I’m open to an in-depth conversation about it at anytime. I have been deeply changed by this saying, and to make sure I don’t forget it or its meaning, I have decided to make it a part of my everyday life.
About a month ago, I had one of my best friends, Daisuke, write out 一期一会 so that I could get it tattooed on my left arm. I had intended on posting this sooner, sorry mom, although I couldn’t find the right words (and I honestly still don’t think I have) to explain it to you all. I urge you all to take some time to reflect on this saying as I have, and maybe it will improve your daily lives as much as it has mine.