More than a hundred people stopped by to see why there wasn’t a post today. Ooops. Sorry about that.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’m looking after my dad after some surgery on his shoulder this past week. He’s not in quite the best shape at the moment, although he’s improving, and he’s needed some serious looking-after. So yesterday’s entry was incredibly short, and today’s practice was incredibly delayed, until almost sundown here. This morning began with needing to help him out of his shoulder harness and get him washed (and after three or four days of not being able to wash, this was an urgent matter for him), and then re-making his chair so he could sit in it, and getting him coffee and water and juice, and then helping him get up to pee, and then helping him back into the chair, and then getting him back up a short while later to get breakfast… It was a busy day of not doing very much.
IT was also a reminder of what happens when we don’t take care of our bodies; and it was a reminder that even when we do take care of our bodies, certain kinds of changes are not merely inevitable, they are built into the fabric of our universe’s being. None of us get out of this life alive.
Back on Day 178 this year, I was thinking about skipping a day. Just one. Would it be so bad? I didn’t. And part of the reason why I didn’t, is that it’s too easy for one day of non-practice to turn into three or four. And then you’re stuck. I wonder if there will be enough of an energy boost from this year’s end, as there was last year, to feel impelled to keep going. I hope so; because today was very similar to day 178 in some ways — finding the time to get started, and then the intention to begin, was almost as hard as at the beginning, back on Day 1.
And then on Day 178 last year, I was thinking about the first week of school, and how difficult it is to slow down in tai chi to an appropriate speed — especially when one learned too fast in the first place. Going fast can get us stuck, and cause us to have to back up to find the new route forward. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though. And on Day 358 last year, I was thinking about the fall I’d had the night before on the ice. Just think, it was still as icy then as it is now! Still as cold. Meanwhile, right now, I’m looking at the western sky and thinking about how much warmer it is today than just a few days ago when I came down to help Dad. And I know, the last time I fell, from slipping on the ice about three weeks ago, it was no trouble at all to pick myself up and dust myself off, and keep going. So the tai chi has made me a little more resilient.
So what do I learn from all of this archival research? The Dweller on the Threshold is often the most serious monster to defeat; at least in part because He keeps coming back, and usually powered-up in some way. There’s always going to be something to keep you from doing the work. Only you can decide to push past that boundary and keep going. Only you can decide that it’s worth your time and energy to keep moving the stone of your self forward, to keep chiseling and polishing it toward perfection.
Why is the Dweller so hard to defeat? I think, in part, because we’re all so aware of what lies at the end of this game. Breath ceases, the body dries out, and we return to the dust of the earth. This is normal. In the meantime, though, there’s this extraordinary game to be played. Do we intend to play it? Or simply watch others at play?
Back to work for me.