I woke up this morning shivering in bed. The temperature has changed, and getting up was hard to do. The apartment was cold, the bed was cold, and it was hard to put my feet on the floor and get to the tai chi. Wow, I thought, this is going to be a really miserable day.
And yet, before I’d finished Five Golden Coins, I was warm and my attitude had changed:
Wow, these motions make me feel really good. Wow, I’m really warming up. It doesn’t take much, does it? Wow, this is easier than I expected it to be. I’m really learning to improve my strength and flexibility from these exercises, aren’t I? Look at me go! Five Golden Coins is easy, let me try Eight Pieces of Silk. Wow, this is easy, and I’m so warm and comfy and cozy now! How about the tai chi form, now?
And before I knew what was happening, my mood had shifted, and I was done with the exercises. Those first eight minutes of responding to the alarm clock and getting out of bed after a late night were hard, but the results can’t be argued with. I was dreading the day at the first beep of the alarm clock, and now I’m not. I was feeling cold, and now I’m warm. I was certain the day would be terrible, and now I expect great things from it.
There’s a line in the Shawshank Redemption about how prison changes you — I can’t be bothered to find it right now, but it’s about how first you can’t live with the prison, then you learn to live with it, and then you learn you can’t live without it. Sometimes I feel like that with regard to my tai chi practice. At first it was hard, just hard. There was initial enthusiasm, but it waned. Now I’m learning to live with it, and accept that it’s going to be part of my day. Yet from time to time, like today, I have this glimmer that the rest of my life will be better because I’m doing this now. There’s that sappy quote about doing today what others won’t, so that tomorrow you can do what others can’t. Whatever.
The truth is, I like how I feel under the influence of tai chi. It clears mental and emotional cobwebs, destroys heart-hurt, strengthens bones, builds muscles, and reshapes my attitude. That’s not a bad set of side effects for a 240-day addiction, is it?