Yesterday I did tai chi on asphalt in the parking lot of the motor inn where I’m staying. It’s interesting to do spins and kicks on a surface with absolutely no give at all. On tile, near the bathroom where I did the forms today, there’s a lot more slide and movement to play with, which is a little more interesting and fun. Yesterday I felt like I was dancing or doing tai chi on the business end of a meat tenderizer. My feet felt poked and prodded in all sorts of ways. Today they feel caressed and loved by the tile surface.
It’s interesting to me that humans make such a wide variety of floors and grounds for a wide variety of activities. Some are nice for tai chi, some are not so nice. (asphalt ranks low on my list, but I haven’t ever had to do the form on broken glass, or tacks, or anything horrible like that). Wooden floorboards can be great, but old floors have nails in them that sometimes poke up. And new floors are sometimes sharp along the edges where they meet one another — they haven’t yet been worn down by use or by craftsmanship. Sometimes I have a choice about where to do my morning work, and sometimes there’s only one logical location. It’s always a balancing act of some kind. It’s nice, though, that the question is less often, “should I…” and more often “where should I…?” when it comes to tai chi. The logic is now spent on location, rather than intention. Twyla Tharp, in her book, The Creative Habit, says that this is one of those things that makes her morning gym routine so effective — having a ritual that gets her up and out of the house before she can even think about going back to bed. By the time she’s on her way to the gym in a taxi, she can’t turn around and return to sleep.
Tai chi is becoming like that.