It’s far enough forward in time that I haven’t done a check-in of the Archive: Let’s see what I was doing on Day 47 in year 1, and on Day 47 in year 2 — and while we’re at it, let’s check in about 6 months ago, and a year and six months ago. First of all, there’s talk of the “inner body” vs. the “outer body” in Year 1. As though there were a correct body and an incorrect body. I don’t know that I believe this any more; or more accurately, if there were ever any separation between the two of them, they’re more aligned with one another than they’ve been in a long time. I stand differently, I walk differently, I move differently as a result of all this daily tai chi. Sometimes people notice, sometimes they don’t… but I think it still makes me a physical presence to be reckoned with.
Year two, I was struggling with the “get it done problem” — in effect, wrestling with the Dweller on the Threshold. Today was a day like that. Here it is, it’s 5:00pm, and I didn’t even start tai chi work until 4:15pm. But it took me from 4:15 until 5:00 pm to do the tai chi work. I knew it would get done, just not when it would get done. And now it’s done — and I was never worried about it getting done, nor upset that I hadn’t done it yet. The time would arise naturally to do it — and so it did, after the morning window to do so had passed.
The check-in point six months ago was not particularly revealing, except that it took place under a specific maple tree. Doing tai chi there would have been perfect this morning — right temperature, right shade, and so on. But the window passed for doing so, and then my work for the day took me home and away from the tree. I’ve learned to work better under the tree since then — it remains my favorite place to do tai chi of all the places I’ve so far found.
A year and six months ago, I was trying to figure out Minimum Acceptable Solution. How much tai chi do I have to do, and how effective does it have to be, for me to feel I’ve “done my work” for the day? The answer was surprising then, but it’s more surprising now. I have sort of re-set my internal ideas about what’s acceptable minimum… It’s a lot lower than it was in year one, frankly… my standards have dropped. But it’s harder to reach that bottom of the barrel point than ever before. I just don’t feel that way about the work any more. It’s part of my day, and doing the work is part of the minimum acceptable standard for the day.
Which brings us to today.
It was a very good day. The form alone took me 20 minutes, and the two qi gong forms took me about 25 minutes together. Slow, deliberate effort on both, no rushing, and no forced effort to keep things smooth. I have to say, although I have a lower acceptable minimum standard than I once did, I have a much better local daily standard than I used to. The overall quality of my work is substantially better than it was two years ago, even if I have an off day now and again.
And this is kind of how we get better over time, right?