Epartway rough the form, I remembered that I was supposed to be in horse stance, and so I went into horse stance. Wow. Ok. Completely different experience.
There’s a big difference between forgetting to do horse stance, and not being able to do horse stance at all. A year ago, I couldn’t do it. Now I can, but I forget to do so. Completely different challenges, really. But if I couldn’t do horse stance at all a year ago, and I sometimes forget now, then… how did my body learn how to do horse stance?
A little at a time, deliberately and slowly. And gradually my body’s muscles and tendons have caut up with my desire. I’m reading a book by Randolph Marcy, a US Army captain from the 1850s, who wrote a book called the Prairie Traveler in 1859. There’s a sentence in the preface that struck me… I can’t look it up, it’s at school, but it’s something like this, “every previous expedition has required such different skills in such combination, that each has added considerably to my range of abilities and confidence.” Marcy writes about his many travels across the Great Plains, and I’m talking about tai chi practice, but I think it’s essentially the same: that we learn in the doing, and the doing takes practice, and the practice teaches a range of unexpected things.
The traveling itself can do unexpected things.