This morning, I performed my daily tai chi practice in a narrow space indoors, under a ceiling fan. It was… not ideal, really. When you’re concentrating on not getting your wrists whacked by the fan blades (they’re not sharp, but they can bruise) in the up-down framework, and you’re trying to avoid kicking chairs or spinning into furniture, it’s hard to maintain good form. Yet as I said yesterday, it’s another way to broaden the experience of what counts as normal. And broadening that experience is useful.
I performed this little experiment, rather than going outside, because colder weather is coming, and this is a house I visit frequently. So I felt like I needed to do a test of what I could and couldn’t do in this space. The answer is, not much, but perhaps enough. If I turned off the fan, and maybe moved a table or two around, I’d have enough space under the right circumstances. And this is a beginning.
We tend to experience the challenges we’re prepared to face, too. Yesterday I met a woman who was explaining how powerful she was and how strong, and how capable. In the course of our conversation, though, she opened up about these tremendous difficulties she was experiencing, and she started to cry. I reminded her that she was powerful and strong, and she had the power and the strength to deal with these obstacles. This wasn’t what she wanted; she wanted things to be easy. I wanted things to be easy for her, too. I wish her well. Yet using language games to cover over our challenges, instead of working to overcome them (sometimes with and sometimes without effective language), is not effective. Things need to be done, too, and we have to do them.
But I’m awfully glad I only have to deal with a ceiling fan and a narrow space to do tai chi. It’s better to learn how to cope with challenges before they become crisis level… I’m not learning to deal with narrow spaces because it’s snowing out. And so this morning, I did tai chi inside, and learned to cope with the ceiling fan, and the furniture, and to work around the challenges of the day and time. I did this because I know that winter is coming, and that the weather is going to make it hard to do tai chi outside and barefoot. I must learn to do this inside, even in this house which isn’t well-laid-out for what I want to do. And I have to learn to do so before it becomes a crisis. I have to make it normal to work here, and know what that means.
This is by no means easy. But it is important work. It’s widening our definition of normal.