Taiji Day 308: Warming Up

The house is cold, cold, cold this morning.  Even though it’s in the 30°± F range outside, I have the heat turned way down in my apartment — I woke this morning to a bedroom in the mid-50s, which is not a typical “American” temperature to be sleeping in.  And I was shivering in bed. I had to walk backward and forward through the house to warm up, and put on a sweatshirt to keep myself up and out of bed even so.  I may have found the lower bound of what I’m personally comfortable with, based on the “turn down the thermostat” exercise from last week’s Archdruid Report.

Today is the 22nd Mansion of the Moon.  If you want to see how far I’ve come as an artist, check out yesterday’s drawing of the 21st Mansion, and then check out the drawing I did for the 22nd Mansion of the Moon, a month ago. And one I drew in November 2011… Progress, I’d say.  And yet not as much as one would think.

Plateaus. We all have them.  I think I’ve hit one in my tai chi practice.  Sure, I’m slowing down my form, with some difficulty, and moving through the positions with greater dignity and less speed.  It’s hard, and some of the forms are causing me to tremble a lot.  But I’ve yet to encounter a movement or a posture that makes me want to give up or give in.  I think that’s important.  But I haven’t yet found which rules I can break in this practice.

At the same time, I haven’t uncovered or unlocked any great secrets of practice.  Even in sixty-ish days, I’m not going to be a tai chi master.  That’s 20 years down the road, if ever.  I may never be anything more than an enthusiast, really.  It’s hard to tell.   But 80% competence is pretty good.  And 80% competence in many different things will take you far: a lot farther than almost anything at 100%.  Apparently I’m now 80%-ish competent as an artist in a few materials (notebooks, pen and ink), and 80% competent (though a long way from 100% competent) in tai chi.  That’s enough to keep my health from deteriorating rapidly, or shrug off colds, or keep myself from injuring myself.  I’m 80% competent as a writer.

Competent is pretty good.  Competent in more than one thing, that’s better. Here in this cold house, even with the shivering that I woke to — I started the day without a trace of the tiny hint of a cold or the flu that was dogging yesterday morning’s practice.  With 80% competence — good enough — I shed yesterday’s illness.  I’ve shifted how I carry my wallet, and added a psoas stretch to my tai chi routine, and that nagging grabber in my lower left side has gone away.  And I’m working on a new poetry sequence, which pleases me.  I’m doing work at the end of my hands, to.

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