The last few days, I’ve started tai chi in the dark, and ended it in the light of early dawn. It’s been kind of nice. Today, it’s bitterly cold outside and snowing. But, we haven’t had a declaration of a snow day or a 90-minute delay or anything yet. So I’m waiting (update: we’re closing today).
It occurred to me that a brief guide to the work, at the start, would be useful. Breathwork: solid, not great. Movement: a little stiff and sore from yesterday’s inactivity. Postures: excellent. Balance: excellent. Footwork: acceptable, but definitely room for improvement. Back on Day 335 in year one my body was realigning itself after going way off track. And back on Day 154 this year (for which there are inexplicably two entries — must have lost count in there somehow) I was playing with jerky movements and fluidity — that was a worthwhile experiment, and I should return to that someday.
Today was… blah. It’s the middle of February (the Ides, basically), and the weather is terrible. My tai chi is OK, but it’s not awesome and it’s not terrible. I’m doing the right movements, and making the right motions, but they’re neither tremendously awe-inspiring nor particularly transformative. And I think this is probably normal. When you’re doing a practice like tai chi on a daily basis, it’s probably completely normal for it to feel completely normal. It’s part of your routine, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower or remembering to do the laundry every so often. It’s typical. My best days now are 10x better than my best days a year ago. My worst days now are 100x better than when I was starting out, and barely remembered the movements from one day to the next.
But overall, my body has adjusted to the expectations I’ve made of it, and it’s learned to do the work — sometimes better than I do, actually; how many of us can say that their body does tai chi better than their brains do it? — and it’s all fairly typical and normal at this point. It doesn’t feel out of the ordinary any more to be a tai chi practitioner. Jason Miller had this great analogy about how at first, you visit a place, and you make all these wonderful discoveries about it, and then you visit more frequently — and it becomes more real to you. And then finally, you move there, and it’s a true place. And I think that’s the case: tai chi started as an adventure, and now it’s just part of my neighborhood.