A Once In a Lifetime Encounter – Wakeup Call

Quite a few years ago I learned the Japanese sentence: "Ichi-go Ichi-e". It translates directly into: "One instance, one meeting", but I think that "A once in a lifetime encounter " is closer to the true intent and meaning of the sentence. I even wrote a post about it a few years ago.

What is so complicated? We all understand that we are only passing guests in this world, that time flows in one direction only. Every experience and every meeting are unique, and will never happen again.

Today I received a wakeup call.

A woman called me today and said she is the mother of Mor, who trains in the Ra’anana Dojo. Mor, A pretty and gentle 20-year-old girl, joined the Dojo about three months ago, and did not show up for classes in the last two weeks. I told her mother that I tried to call her on the phone, but Mor didn’t answer. Then her mother told me, "Mor died". I asked her to repeat what she just said, because I was sure that I didn’t hear properly. But she repeated her sentence. I was utterly shocked! Tears flooded my eyes and I found it hard to talk.

Mor decided to commit suicide, and it seems she had planned it out meticulously.

Her mother wished to thank me for the time Mor practiced Aikido, and said that Mor had written in her diary that she enjoyed the aikido classes very much, and found this activity very meaningful. I thanked her for calling me and letting me know, and we agreed to meet soon. We ended the conversation and I found myself stunned and crying. I was shocked by the frailty of life, by the sudden loss. Nothing in the world can prepare us for such news.

And then I asked myself: What am I supposed to learn from this? What is my lesson? And my answer had two parts:

  1. I need to remember that I will never know what someone is going through, and therefore I should try to be less judgmental.
  2. I need to be more aware of the frailty of our existence. To enjoy myself more, to laugh more and to be more present in every encounter in life.

I have no idea how long the influence of the conversation with Mor’s mother will last, and it is obvious to me that as human beings, it is easier to pretend that we and everyone around us will be here for ever. But this illusion does not serve us well, and if we want to get closer, even just a little bit, to the ideal of "One instance, one encounter", it is better to be aware of our existence being temporary and fragile.

It was a rude awakening, and I woke!

Farwell, dear Mor. I will miss you very much.

(English translation: Guy Tutka)

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