Yesterday I did tai chi under my favorite maple. Today I did tai chi in my own kitchen: site of my experiments in chemistry and alchemy, in cheese-making and cooking, in writing and gardening (I have a little table with my plants under the western window). There is something singularly powerful about doing a martial art in the comforting embrace of a room where you feed yourself.
There’s something visceral about being able to move in a militant way in the room you call home, perhaps more than any other. And it’s not necessarily about defending home or preparing to face attack at home. My friend R. would want me to train for that potential experience and be prepared; but I don’t think that it is quite what I’m getting at. No — there’s a joy in discovering that one wants to be familiar with moving in every room of one’s house. It’s like discovering the house belongs to you. Or that the house at least recognizes you as its current custodian or guardian in the human world.
The movement through the tai chi forms felt like prayer this morning. For a long time, maybe the first half-year, it felt like practice of separate body positions. Then it started to have some flow or fluidity to it. By the end of last year, it was becoming one thing to such a degree that it was difficult to slow down. And now, it’s slowing down to the point where it feels like a procession of choristers entering a cathedral, and the hairs on the back of my neck begin to tremble in anticipa