I did tai chi my usual way today: in the living room, right after my first bathroom visit of the day — five golden coins, eight pieces of silk, and the form. Even after almost 150 days, some days, like today, I feel like a cheater. This is not heavy exercise; it’s a little bit of stretching and a little bit of movement to start my day. It’s not much more than that. It rarely takes me a halfhour. I’m just not that slow at doing this yet.
But the lights are off, and the curtains in the living room are partly drawn, and it’s early morning. Shadows are thick this morning, and everyone else is asleep. As my arms twist into the punches of Punch down with angry face, it’s hard not to notice the thickening cables of muscle in my arms, the way shadows fall into nooks and crannies that weren’t there six months ago.
Oh, no doubt. I’m no hardbody of the Men’s Olympic gymnastics team. But I have defined biceps and triceps now, and pockets of fat in my arms are melting away like Antarctic pack ice — slowly enough that it’s difficult to notice; fast enough that people who haven’t seen me in a while notice remarkable change.
I could wish that it was faster. I could wish that it was easier. I could wish for immediate dietary fixes, too. Oh well. It is what it is — a slow process of deliberate change, powered by my own reluctant rising from bed to do the forms in the early-dawn light.