I went back to read what happened on day 332 in year 1, and what happened on day 151 in the second year, which would have been six months-ish ago. Both, interestingly enough, were written while on the road. The first one was in a hotel room (for my February retreat), and the second was in a place with low ceilings. Both were about recognizing the limitations of space and time, and overcoming them as best you’re able. When time is short or late in the day, do the work quickly. When the ceilings are low and your hands brush the ceiling on every movement, practice your horse stance.
I need to practice horse stance more.
But today I did the other side of that lesson about doing short and sweet when you haven’t got much time. And that is, when you have the time, don’t do things by halves. I started the tai chi form after two great qi gong routines, and about 30 seconds into it I thought, “Keep this going, and you’ll be done before the garbage truck comes by.” Given that I could hear the garbage truck, and see its headlights shining through my blinds into my office, this was not going to be a long time. My tai chi practice would have left with my neighbors’ garbage (not mine… my pick-up day is Wednesday).
So I stopped. And I started again. And I think this is going to be the critical lesson in year three: when you’re doing it wrong, or in a half-assed way, yes: it’s up to YOU, Andrew, to start over and do it right. To do it more slowly. To do it with more horse stance. To do it with a wider stance. To do it with more attention to your breathing. To do it more carefully and with a greater emphasis on doing it right: at the right speed, at the right breathing sequence, and with the right level of attention to form and fluidity. It is up to me to make my work more true.
In some of my computer classes, I’m teaching about spreadsheets this week, and we’re learning to work with Booleans through the use of checkboxes. Checkboxes in spreadsheets are brilliant; you check a box, and the value becomes “true”. Uncheck it and it becomes “false”. I’ve spent a couple of days going over various ways of introducing what’s called a Checksum into a spreadsheet’s data entry fields. This is a field that does a calculation on the data in the database part of a spreadsheet, and confirms that all the information is there, and that it’s correct.
Well, it occurs to me that I am the checksum sequence of my daily tai chi practice. I am the one who has to make sure that it’s done correctly, more days than it’s done haphazardly. There’s no one here to tell me “you’re doing it wrong.” I am my own checksum. I am the one who provides the confirmation that the work has been done, and done well, and that it was done as well today as most of the other days in the week, and that it’s getting better over time.
How have you double-checked yourself lately?