This has got to be my favorite four-word Japanese idiom, “ichigo ichie”, which means “one opportunity, one meeting”. It translates into “for this time only and maybe never again”, meaning we should cherish the time that we have with others, whether it is with a stranger or a friend, because the exact same meeting (where you had dinner, what you talked about , how you feel) will never recur. You only get one chance to meet some people you come across in your life and even a gathering with your friends can be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion as the same moment can not be replicated. Treasure every encounter of yours as it may not come to you again. I love the meaning of this Zen concept, the way these words sound and how beautiful the strokes are. I love it so much that I think if I were to ever get a tattoo, these characters will be my choice.
One of the great things about traveling is you meet people from all walks of life that can influence you in one way or another, sometimes without even realizing it yourself. Either it is their lifestyle or life philosophy, the conversations that you had with them or something that they said could have triggered something in you that have changed your view of life, or sometimes it is just the memory that you have of them that keeps you motivated and happy. While traveling, I have had countless “ichigo ichie” encounters with people that I never saw again, and some I still keep in touch with today.
I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and that every decision we make in life, small or big, can make a difference. If I didn’t catch this train, if it wasn’t because that hostel was fully booked or if I didn’t stop by the supermarket, I would have never ran into this person. Chance meetings are so previous.
I would like to tell you about some of people that I have encountered on the road, some became my friends and others we met and went our separate ways but have left an impression. I find myself retelling these stories to my friends over and over again, because the experiences were so lovely and memorable. Now I can put them down into writing and share them with everyone.
- Ivy, Leslie, and Philippe ( Chiang Mai, Thailand )
- The nomadic girl (Sapa, Vietnam)
- My charming Israeli brothers, Ofer and Omri (Xiahe, China)
- My little hero in Varanasi
- The smart, handsome, kind-hearted medical student (Yangon, Burma)