I’ve got 34-ish days before I’ve completed two years of daily tai chi. It’s a little bit more than a month (especially this month), which is a pretty startling and exciting thing. I’m trying not to get too worked up about it.
Today’s tai chi was pretty typical. I wasn’t unbalanced, like Friday, and I did my best to stick to basics. I didn’t do the breathwork part as easily as I did a week or so ago, but it wasn’t bad. At the same time, I didn’t have that bullet-time awareness that can come when you’re really paying attention.
Which means that, all in all, it was a pretty typical day for tai chi. No extreme discoveries made, no extreme work done. Neither a rat-bag-poor sketch of the two qi gong forms, nor a full-on masterpiece. Neither a challenging day that upset all conventions, nor a day that was too easy to be believed. It’s the via media, the middle way of the work: keep working the forms, keep working through the movements, keep trying to do them well… but don’t expect every day to be a blow-out, and don’t phone in the work every day. You’re going to have both up-days and down-days. You’re going to have a lot of days in the middle.
But my “middling days” now are much better than they were a year ago. The extreme ends of the scale become more serious, the longer in time I go without a break — a sketchy day doesn’t feel like tai chi at all now, it’s more like waving my arms about while I do some funky dance steps in the kitchen. But likewise, an over-the-top day winds up conveying radical and deep insight into the work. The middle of the scale, where I’m strongest and most capable, has shifted from, “wow, that wasn’t very long but I’m breathing hard” to “that was about the right length of time, but I should work on my foot placement a little, and maybe focus on breathing more.”
Which is to say, that it’s no longer about getting the muscles and bones and ligaments to be in the right place and doing the right thing, and not exhausting myself in the process. It’s about increasing attention, and deepening the comprehension of the practice. These things can be done, and should be. But they’re a far cry from what I used to do. Which means, I’ve moved my middle.
Where has your middle moved?