Got up this morning to do the work, and discovered that while I love to do the work of tai chi, I’m sort of getting bored of writing about it. I mean, Five Golden Coins is just this:
- Stretch up to the sky with first one hand then the other
- Push out to the sides with first one hand and then the other
- Push out to the front with first one hand then the other, while drawing the opposite hand back
- Touch your toes and then reach for the sky
- Bend at the knees and waist and swing your arms hard so your back is parallel with the floor and your fists are above your kidneys.
I mean, sure, they have fancy names:
- Join Heaven and Earth
- Plucking Apples
- Bend the Bow
- Attending to Earth
- Carry Milk to Heaven
But it’s really just a calisthenic routine, right? Or is it something more? Does doing something Chinese and martial-arts-y every day make me something other than just an ordinary guy? How does the fact that I carry out this daily practice matter, in the grand schemata of things?
It probably doesn’t.
How does it matter for me. Well, I find that I have an easier time thinking through problems on a day when I’ve done tai chi — but of course, that judgement is subjective, relative. It’s been more than half a year since I had a day on which I’ve not done tai chi. My judgement is relative, here. I could be wrong. Is it to get better at tai chi? Yes. If I shifted to doing tai chi three times a week, I’d get better less quickly than I do now… but on the other hand, I’ve already achieved a degree of basic competence.
There’s a sequence of maneuvers in tai chi called grasping the swallow’s tail. It’s this: rollback, press, push, Buddha’s cup, single whip. And that sequence of maneuvers comes up a total of four times in the form, each time I do the form. So I’ve done those five moves over a thousand times. Ward Off Left and Ward Off Right each appear twice in the form: I do those fourteen times a week. Each move in the two qi gong routines gets performed sixteen times; I’ve done each of them over 4000 times.
And yet one hits plateaus, like this one, where I feel like I just can’t write about it any more.
But that’s just it. I feel like I can’t write about tai chi any more. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t. While the Dweller on the Threshold continues to insist that it’s just not worth the effort any more, and that I should give up, my brain has successfully produced about five hundred words talking about this mental ‘block’. The mental block, in other words, isn’t really there. The barrier to growth and experience and personal development is in fact not so burdensome that I can’t get myself going.
Just because some portion of my brain has a voice that says, “stop writing about tai chi, you’re boring yourself,” doesn’t mean that I’m not capable of continuing to find points to write about. Sometimes the limitations of the work continue to lead to deep insight.