This morning is day 234… I won’t have a day where the numbers are in order like that until day 345… And then I’ll be about three weeks out from completing a full year of practice. Whether I’ll make it is anyone’s guess.
Today I’m a guest in another house, and so I did my tai chi in their office. It’s s very mechanical room. The clock ticks at each second, there are lights from several darkened computer monitors glaring at the visitor, there are heavy blackout blinds, the floor carpet is thick enough to disguise the wooden floor boards, and there is a layer of white noise from the hum of the fish tank.
There is also not a lot of space in here.
The two factors, machines and space limits, constrained my practice more than a little. My body kept wanting to move in sync with the clock… Even though the motions of the form aren’t supposed to take a second. They’re supposed to be smooth, slow and graceful, which a) takes longer than a second and b) can’t be jerky and clunky like the motion of gears inside a clock (even though I’m sure this one is quartz/electric movement of some kind).
The carpet also made me unsure of where my feet were… Yes, I knew they were under me. But because of the carpet’s thickness, I wasn’t sure if my feet were firmly planted or not. That made my kicks and spins slower and less sure. The aquarium was a constant reminder of the potential of failure; so were the computers. A fall could break something or bump something expensive and I could really be hurt by falling glass or a tumbling computer or …. You get the idea.
The whole experience was a bit of a reminder: we’re part of our environment. When the environment is constrained: by noise, by a ticking clock, by a metronome, by the noise of computers, even by the carpet — we ourselves change in accordance with those environmental conditions. The change may be subtle, but it’s still there.
Don’t believe me: watch people, the next time you’re at the mall or another public place where there’s music blaring over a public address system. I’ll bet you find that they’re moving in sync to the music that is playing. So are you, unless you consciously work to prevent it.
Good luck with that.