Yesterday a friend of a friend approached me about learning tai chi. And while I showed him how to do Five Golden Coins, I realized that I had zero interest in teaching tai chi during that short training demo. Part of it is that I don’t feel ready to teach. I’ve learned how to do tai chi daily, and keep at it; there’s a big difference between base competency and mastery, though. And I’m not at mastery. Meanwhile there’s several good tai chi teachers in town who don’t need me stomping all over their feeding grounds.
But more than that, I find, is the challenge that the work, and the teaching of the work, are two different things. When I’m teaching, as I did yesterday, I’m not working. When I’m working, I can’t teach. I have to do one or the other. And I realized that — while I’m perfectly happy to show someone a qi gong routine or do a form with them — I have zero interest in doing the intense one on twenty practice necessary to train someone to do what I do. Not only do I have zero interest, I don’t actually want the job — I’m already in a teaching relationship with quite a lot of people, and it’s enough. I don’t want fewer students than I have now, but I don’t want more.
Out of the blue, as well, a friend of mine and I had a chance to text each other, and I realized I’m investing a lot of energy in friendships that aren’t actually working, and not really investing enough energy in the friendships I already have. It was quite the insight, and related, I think, to the teaching vs. working problem: if I’m teaching, it’s hard to form friendships; if I’m working in friendship mode, it’s hard to teach.
So don’t expect me to start up a dojo any time soon.