Tai Chi Y2D134: fifteen minutes

Today doing all three forms of my daily practice took me fifteen minutes. I’m aghast. I’ve been working so hard to slow down my practice. It’s been my primary effort all summer. Andim back to where I started.

None of the individual motions seemed particularly fast. There was a whole sequence during eight pieces of brocade when I was doing “bend the bow to shoot the hawk”: I felt as though both my form and my speed were excellent — shoulders down,obliques nice and tight, a good twist from the hips, and so on. But, if that section really was good, then that means everything else was doubly fast, because that took extra time, and it still took less time to do all three forms than the main tai chi form is supposed to take, all by itself.


But then I thought to myself, hey, what is fifteen minutes of time, anyway? Well, today is day 134 of year two; and year one was actually a year and a day: so today is day 500 = 134+366. And 15 minutes a day for 500 days is 125 hours.

One of the reasons I think I’ll never be a tai chi master is that they spend 20 years getting good. Twenty years of 4 hours a day training is around 30,000 hours of practice. I’ve not even broken the thousand-hour mark.

But I’m not likely to do so before I turn fifty, either. That’s nine years of practice for me at 15 minutes a day — and yet that’s not even 900 hours of time devoted to my health and well-being over nearly a decade.

Admittedly, there are days when I practice longer than 15 minutes. Some days I get in a half hour. Not every day, but some days are 45 minutes and some — a few, not many — are an hour. But all I’ve done is create a very broad window for you to peer through. “I have somewhere between 125 hours and 500 hours of tai chi and qi gong practice under my belt.”

But all that means is that I’ve done tai chi for somewhere between three working weeks (40 hours), and three months. In any job, that’s enough time to know if this job is worth the time, or if it is to be shoved onto your resume under “former employers”.

I like to think that I’m in this for the long game. That I’ll still be doing daily tai chi somewhere in 25 or 30 years, still racking up time served in fifteen or twenty minute daily intervals. But the truth is, I could stop tomorrow. I could quit. I could be injured. I could find something else. I could give up.

Or I may put another 15 minutes on the clock, tomorrow, or maybe even more.

Maybe tomorrow is the day I find the key that allows me to move at the 45 minutes-every-practice speed, every time.

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