I’m not sure it hit me until today how much this tai chi thing has ruled my life the last year. Today, I didn’t get up on time: the alarm failed to go off, it’s the first day back in school, and I didn’t sleep very well last night at all. My sleep schedule is all distorted from the week of vacation, and suddenly it’s back to the knowledge mines. And I thought, I don’t have enough time to do tai chi.
Ah yes, the old enemy here again, here at the end. The Dweller on the Threshold makes its appearance once more. You don’t have time. You don’t have skill. You can’t do this.
But I can. And I have.
Look, when you’ve done a year of tai chi, or a year of anything daily, you’re learning to let go of expectation that it has to be a certain way. I committed to a year of daily tai chi when I started appending numbers to these blog posts. But I didn’t commit to a year of perfect tai chi, or a year of awesome, slow and graceful, beautiful tai chi. I committed to doing the tai chi form daily for a year; and if you go back to the beginning of the year, you’ll find that I added in the Eight Pieces of Silk along the way (I guess I should do another month to be sure), because I felt that I could handle it.
But perfect daily tai chi probably doesn’t exist. There’s something I do wrong every day. And if today my practice was cramped and rushed because of time constraints, so what? I got up despite my concern over time and the rush to school after vacation, I did the qi gong movements, and then I glided through the form as gracefully as I could given the time pressures that are pressing on me. So what if it wasn’t perfect? So what if I could have done it better? So what if the inner critic has something to say about all this?
The inner critic isn’t the one doing the tai chi, and neither are the outer critics. I am. Or, you are. And you need to know, only you know if the tai chi has been done today. Sure, you can go all Vladimir Horowitz on yourself, and ask if a 20 minute tai chi practice counts as much as a 40-minute practice. But whether you put a gold star in your appointment book like my mother does when she gets exercise on a given day, or make a checkmark on a calendar, or write a blog post, or whatever you do to mark the occasion, you are the arbiter of that act. Did you do tai chi today? Yes? Make your mark.
Tomorrow, or later today, you can circle back to it and do that more intense work you dreamed of, that you hoped for. For right now, be satisfied with completion. Greatness or perfection can come on other days; for today, do the work, and move on.