I didn’t want to get up this morning. Peregrin had just posted an interesting set of short book reviews, and I got absorbed in them before I got up. But, eventually, I did get up… and it was like I was on autopilot. Into the office to do … ahem… morning prayer. I’m becoming more monk-like every passing day. Five Golden Coins, Eight Pieces of Silk, and the form. The kavad is on the worktable, just to the north of me, as I do these three tai chi forms. It’s there, reminding me to do the work, at all the levels that “doing the work” involves.
There’s a famous cartoon from the New Yorker, of two scientists (you can tell they’re scientists because they’re wearing white lab coats and there’s a model of some molecule on the workbench nearby, as I recall), standing in front of a blackboard covered with equations. In a circle of chalk on the board is one part of the equation, are the words “then a miracle occurs”. One of the scientists is pointing at this circle, and saying to his colleague, “I think you need to be a little more rigorous here in step two.” (Aha… Google helps. Here’s the Cartoon. No workbench, but clearer diagrams on the board than I remembered.)
Doing the work. What does that mean? Well, first of all, for me, it means getting out of bed. That’s become enough to set this little ritual in motion. I wonder if we give ourselves enough credit for getting out of bed and getting started on something. Probably not. I had this experience yesterday, of reading student work and grading it, and as a teacher the pressure is always on to grade this stuff harshly, to hand out C’s and D’s for misunderstandings or errors in grammar or stylistic issues in writing, and … you know, it’s hard. They are doing this work at the end of a long day, some with a lot of parental guidance, and some without guidance, and … wow.
Perhaps its enough to get up. The miracle is that more happens beyond that… All sorts of amazing things are going to happen today… but doing tai chi today was step two. It just happened, like a miracle, just by setting two feet on the floor.