We've been thinking about loss a lot over the past few weeks and the 4-character Japanese idiom (yojijukugo), "Ichi go Ichi e" has been on my mind. And not just my mind, Kaicho used it as the focus off his meditation last week remembering Eiko Hanshi Andy (if you'd like to join this meditation the video is up on the World Seido Karate Organization Facebook page--this is a closed group, open to all Seido members. If you haven't joined yet, you'll have to get approved before you can watch the video). For those of us in karate classes, hopefully you'll recognize the "ichi" as the Japanese word for "one." Taken as a whole, the phrase means, "one chance, one opportunity" or "one opportunity, one encounter," or something along those lines. The basic gist is that each moment is fleeting and unrepeatable, if you ignore the moment you're in because you're thinking about something else, you'll miss it and you'll never have a chance to get it back.
Maybe you're worried about the future, excited about your birthday party next week, lamenting a bad decision from the past, remembering something good that happened; it doesn't matter if you're focused on a good thing or a bad thing, if it takes you out of the moment you're living you've lost something you'll never get back.When Kaicho was talking about it, he bent his thoughts towards moments of meeting other people or moments in the dojo. This week we were remembering people we've lost. For Senpai Laura it was her grandmother, for the Seido world it was Eiko Hanshi Andy, for Sun Dragon it was Senpai Arleen. Last night in class we celebrated Serafina's time with us at Sun Dragon as she and Paula are moving to Portugal tomorrow. Applying ichi go ichi e to people, we only get so many moments with people, life is ephemeral, and we don't know what meeting with a person might be our last. Hopefully, if we keep that in mind, we'll pay attention to the person across from us, listen deeply to what they're saying, respond from the heart, focus on the uniqueness of this person in this moment. The idea resonates a bit with the concept of seizing the day for all you Dead Poets out there, though carpe diem tends to be a little more about it being better to burn out than to fade away.
Even if you're not much of one for Eastern Philosophy and its focus on the moment, I hope that all of you can appreciate this simple thought--embrace the moment you are in, embrace the people you are with, don't miss the things that are right in front of you because you're thinking too much about what's already happened or what's to come. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't plan for the future or learn from the past, just don't do those things to the neglect of the present.
And one more thought, carry this idea with you when you come into the dojo. If you're punching, punch with your entire mind and body. If you're doing a kata, immerse yourself in it and express it completely. That's one of the beautiful things about karate--it's practice for life outside the dojo. The better you get at fully committing to a punch, a kick, a kata, a meditation, the better you'll be at transferring that skill to other parts of your life. And you'll appreciate the moment you're in, the people you're with, the food you're eating, all the better because you're able to commit to them with all of your being.