Today was a rare day off for me. Waking at my usual 6am, I rolled over until 8am, and had what I consider to be a ‘lie in’. Now, sitting at my dining room table at 4pm, I type this just as the sun is beginning to set. I am listening to Music For Airports by Brian Eno – the only other accompanying sounds being that of school kids on their way home from the elementary school next door, and the bubbling of a slow cooker that has been patiently concocting a curry for the last five hours. I had a bath. I walked around my local temple in the sun. And I went to the gym.
I am acutely aware of how boring all this must sound. Yet recently I am totally content to just be – to experience the everyday happenings of daily life. Tokyo provides me with endless imagery and inspiration; just walking down the road gives me enough stimuli that I don’t feel the need to travel to another part of the city or go to a museum just because it is my day off. Of course I love doing these things too, but I don’t feel I have to. And for me, that is a big shift in my way of thinking over the last few years.
Ichi-go ichi-e (一期一会), is a Japanese idiom that is often translated as “for this time only,” “never again,” or “one chance in a lifetime.” The term reminds people to cherish any gathering that they may take part in, citing the fact that many meetings in life are not repeated. Even when the same group of people can get together again, a particular gathering will never be replicated, and thus, each moment is always once-in-a-lifetime.
This can, of course, be said for anything in life.
Sure, I can visit my local temple again next week. But the leaves will have fallen, and the trees will be older. The sky will look different, and the people who I shared the grounds with today will be doing other things, creating their own simple – and yet equally once-in-a-lifetime – moments.