The other day, I talked about how my daily practice of tai chi was starting to influence how I worked in the Design Lab at school. The last two days have been both whirlwind and tedium, as I used any spare time I had to get the 3D printer to the point where it would print a student design — assuming that design was sound, which by no means all of them are (a few of them are horrendously bad — the printer-driver software returns messages like “this object has a strange loop in it — every polygon must have two faces.” In other words, the printer doesn’t know if the hull of this boat model is the inside, or the outside, of the model. Oops.
I’ve felt that way the last few days in my tai chi practice, and in my druidry practice. I’ll stop in the middle of a sequence to look at something on my desk, or to wander into the other room to look into my refrigerator and thin about breakfast. Normally I’m very good about drawing a line around myself, and saying, “in this box, tai chi practice, and it happens here, and then it’s done” and then I undo the line, and I go on with my day. The last few days, there’s been no line and no box.
Yesterday, I finally got a trio of three correct prints in a row — a test cube provided with the base printing software, an object downloaded from thingiverse.com, and one I’d designed myself for the purpose in SketchUp. I did this by making a change in the z-axis (basically, determining how high the extruder rises, each time it completes a level. The answer, for my purposes, is .37 mm, and I’m recording this as much for my own memory, as for your edification… because the computer will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that .37 mm must be wrong, wrong, wrong).
And today, my tai chi practice was back in its box.
No, let me take that back.
Because the truth is that what’s happening in the Design Lab is starting to influence me in my tai chi practice. And to say that this mental box at home is the same size as it was six months or a year ago, or even a few days ago, is to miss the point completely. The disorder at school and the jangling of the printer, unsettled my sleep and unsettled my tai chi. And today, with the printer working properly for the first time since April, I slept well last night, and I had a more orderly practice.
But I wasn’t able to draw a box around it. In fact, I kind of ‘forgot’ that step. Thus, when a rubber band under tension on my desk suddenly snapped, and dropped a pencil — in the darkness of my office, I thought it was a mouse climbing around on my desk, or some other creature. I’ve never seen a mouse there, but this is an old building. It’s possible. I turned on the light, saw the broken rubber band, figured out where it came from, and then resumed my practice.
But it wasn’t until I finished the sequence that I realized that I’d resumed my practice exactly where I’d left off. I’d interrupted my work, and yet instead of starting over [as I’d have done a year ago] and instead of ignoring the sound until I was done and staying inside my practice [as I’d have done only a week ago], I interrupted my practice, investigated a disruptive sound, and then returned into the work.
And this is why I say my tai chi practice is starting to come out of the office/dojo at home, and into the school. You see, I didn’t get my three correct prints in a row while I was fussing and fuming at the printer. I got them after I’d done tai chi in the lab space, at the end of parents’ night, when I should have been at my most frustrated and tired.
I got them because I deliberately exercised the intentions of patience and care which tai chi brings me.