When doing an exact count against 365 days, a half-year is 182.5 days. Which means that sometime Wednesday will mark one year and six months of daily tai chi, with a (mostly daily) companion written piece to go along with it.
Almost through half-a-year of year two. It feels good. It’s done nothing to change my weight, of course. It’s done something to change my patience, my focus, and my drive. It’s made me more flexible and more mobile. It’s given me more limberness and more stretch. And it’s helped me become more calm.
Today’s practice had to wait until almost the end of the day. There wasn’t the space where I was to do the forms this morning, and the middle part of the day sort of ran away from me. So it wasn’t until the end of the day that I had both time and space to perform the work. Doing it in the afternoon or early evening was a completely different experience. I kind of liked it. I’ve always been afraid of doing it too late in the day, because there’s always a chance that I won’t get to it, and I’ll miss the day completely. But today went well, and I had a good practice.
There’s a curious thing about leaving it until almost the end of the day, though. There’s a lot more of the snap, crackle and pop! in my joints and ligaments at the end of the day than at the beginning. Everything stretches more. I’ve said before, You can’t be an adept in the evening if you’ve only practiced in the morning.
So, I’m thinking about moving one of my qi gong practices from morning to evening at the stat of the second half of the year. It’s clear that doing the work at the end of the day opens up parts of the body and mind that are somewhat shut off at the end of the day no matter how much work I do at the start.
Mostly unrelated to this, I attended a workshop last week where I began the process of learning the breath-work and mouth positions necessary to harmonic-overtone singing (Tuvan throat-singing, it’s sometimes called). I’ve been singing in the car on the way to and from work, and here and there elsewhere. It’s pretty odd-sounding, and for the first five minutes or so, I’m mildly interested. Then after about ten minutes I think, “how long is this concert, anyway? Another hour and a half of this?” Followed about ten minutes later by “Wow! This is Awesome!”
And I think this is also the arc that I’ve experienced around many of my interests and learning processes. The first few steps along the curve of learning are always deeply interesting as I approach competence and confidence. Then, a level of apathy sets in as I discover that getting a whole lot better at something requires considerably more investment of time, energy, attention and care. There’s a long period where I’m not sure what I’m going to get out of the experience. And then, after this long period of attention and investment in spite of boredom, there’s a breakthrough where I achieve a greater level of competence and confidence in the work than I’d previously had.
And I feel like this long stretch of tedium is where I am currently in my tai chi cycle. I’m aware of having insights into getting better, but not really clear on why I want to be better than I currently am. I’m collecting and collating data on how to get a lot better, but not yet invested in actually doing that work beyond my usual daily procedures. I know what to do, but I’m not really sure if I’m going to do it.
Of course, if I continue to do tai chi daily, at some point the work will get done. That’s sort of the point. Over the long haul, a guy who practices every day will gradually change habits enough and change patterns enough that the work will have that effect on him. At least, that’s what I think today as I continue to do the work.