During my qi gong routines, I scrambled the end of Five Goden Coins with the end of Eight Pieces of Silk. Both routines end with toe touches and squats, but these exercises are performed with different arms and body movements. I performed the Five Golden Coin movements in the Eight Pieces of Silk routine, and vice versa. Part of me thought, I should go back and do that all again. And part of me thought, why? I’ll just do them correctly tomorrow.
Quin asked a few questions the other day that I’ve been having a hard time formulating an answer to. The first one was, when did you decide to do tai chi daily forever? And I can only answer that by saying, I’ve decided to do it for two years. First I set my heart on doing it for a year, and then I decided to do it for a second year. And frankly, it’s still a struggle to do it sometimes. Yes, it’s a sacrifice, but it’s also paying dividends in terms of health and focus. And as Christine pointed out in a later comment, at some point it becomes its own habit. That habit becomes itself hard to break.
When that habit arrives, I’ll let you know. I’m trying to inculcate it in Druidry right now, and boy is it proving hard to make that sink in. Similarly with this “thirty days of making” project: how do I transform myself into an artist and a designer, except by making things and learning to love making things?
As far as this activity being like becoming a concert pianist… Well, yes. If you’re not practicing your martial art, you’re not becoming a martial artist. If you’re not practicing your musical instrument, you’re not a musician. If you’re not writing poetry, you’re not a poet. If you’re not dancing regularly, you’re not a dancer. If you’re not practicing magic, you’re not a magician. If you’re not druidizing, you’re not a Druid. And so on.
I resonate with your theme of sacrifice. That it feels like a sacrifice to rise in the morning and go tend to the shrine. And it should. You’re placing a limitation on yourself, and installing in yourself a boundary or an edge that wasn’t there before. Your boundary was particularly chafing because it required you to be in a specific neighborhood at a specific time all the time. Mine requires me to perform a specific action regardless of where I am. The narrowness or broadness of the limitations are relative — I find mine mostly easy to bear, you find yours challenging, but they’re both limits and edges that we chafe against sometimes.
But sometimes, it’s accepting a limitation that makes other things possible. I’m starting, finally, to lose weight. I’ve done enough study and analysis to understand that eating bread and pasta and sugar increases my weight rapidly, and not eating those substances causes me to shed pounds. If I accept and take responsibility for that limitation, I will prosper. If I don’t, well, sooner or later I’ll top 325 pounds. Or more. If I do take responsibility, I’ll be healthier and happier and heartier. But I need to create new habits to counter the deep habits of forty-plus years around bread and pasta and sugar. No easy thing. How is that done? Deciding that it matters today. And then tomorrow, and the next day. Sometimes, it means deciding that it matters for the next hour. Or the next three minutes.
And there are still days when I don’t want to get out of bed. I do, but I don’t really want to.
But it’s been about accepting an edge, a boundary, a limitation in my life. I have to make room for a half hour of tai chi and a half hour of writing every day, and a half hour for my druidic or magical work. An hour and a half of my day, every day, belongs to the me I am trying to become. It’s the future me, reaching back in time to claim the necessary space and time to train me into being him. It’s sort of an odd way of thinking about it, but that’s what limitation and boundary do. We’re so used to thinking of ourselves as not having limits — but we do. Unless you bind up your life with a half-hour for the piano every day, you will never play Rachmaninov. You may never play Rachmaninov anyway, but without the daily sacrifice to the piano, it’s impossible.