Taiji Day 299: Don’t Excuse

I woke this morning with a headache.  I suppose that’s typical for New Year’s Day, for a good many people; but not so much for me.  It took me a while to get home and get settled after a gathering of friends last night, but I did eventually get settled. And then I did tai chi.

It was a lousy practice session.  I was slow, and my body was tight from yesterday in a lot of places.  I don’t mean that it was slow in a good way, either.  No, it was a cruddy session of tai chi.  But that’s sort of the point, really.  Don’t give yourself excuses not to do the work — they’re all lousy excuses.  Consider:

  • I’m too sore from yesterday’s hike/bike/walk/party/marathon
  • I’m dehydrated
  • I got my exercise yesterday
  • I deserve a day off
  • My cat died/my dog swallowed a sock/my camel threw a shoe and  I spent all yesterday at the vet’s office.

All of these things are about yesterday.  Boohoo.  Whatever.  They’re still just excuses, and they’re excuses which are getting in the way of YOU becoming the person you intend to be.  If that future person does tai chi every day, then no excuses. Get up and do it.

But don’t get too attached to the practice, either.  I know, I know… I’m one to talk.  I’ve done this every day for almost three hundred days. If anyone is over-attached to their practice, it’s me.  But you’ll notice that I don’t have awesome practice every day.  I have practice every day. Some days it’s great, some it’s boring, some days — well, it’s downright painful.  And tedious.  And silly.  And why are we doing this, anyway?

But hang in there.  Just as you don’t excuse yourself from practice, barring major accident or trauma — and really, what better way to help you get over your trauma or accident but doing as much of the work as you can, given your new limitations? — you also don’t excuse your own overly-fussy expectations about practice.  It’s JUST practice.  Do it, without being too seriously upset about a given day or week being good or bad. You’re in this for the long haul, aren’t you?  Then don’t worry if today is bad, or tomorrow, or a whole week.  Just get up and do the work.  Drink when you’re thirsty. Rest when you’re tired.  But do the work.  Don’t excuse yourself out of doing the work at all; don’t excuse the rude critic in your head who says, “that’s not good enough, do it again (or don’t do it at all).”

Part of the point here is that you’re letting go of perfectionism.  You’re never going to get anything completely, 100% right.  There’s too many details to get right — where you put your weight, how you place your foot, when you shift attention from one direction to another, is your hand really supposed to be there at that angle? Really? Are you sure?  Let go of all of that.  The practice is the practice, and everything else flows from that.  No excuses for not doing it — especially not perfectionism.

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