Ichigo ichie

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Ichigo ichie

One time only, this event

Ichigo ichie : Ichi : one; Go : a time, a period, an age, a season, a session, an opportunity; E : ceremony, meeting, assembly, encounter. "One time, one encounter." This is a motto in the Japanese tea ceremony schools. Though the ritual may be repeated, this moment is a unique meeting to be lived intently, itself never to be repeated; it is your whole life now.

There are many kinds of time: time moving towards a goal, time cut up into unrelated moments, time in repeating cycles, time spreading out like a landscape. Ichigo ichie seems to ignore those large patterns and to concentrate on the unrepeatable moment. But this is a moment compressed, where a tiny room and a few flowers and a simple ritual invite concentration on a few present objects that fill the hour but also awake the absences that give them meaning.

There is an analogy to be made with the inhabitation of place: one time here, see it, be here now. But I want to insist, whether in the place or in the tea, that the larger complexities and structure remain active on the horizon and our presence in the place or the moment demands awareness of that horizon and its openings.