It’s funny. Things that I thought would never take off, take off; things that I think will take off, somehow never do. I was fairly sure that For the Mighty Dead would be a great poem for this time of year, and lots of people would read it (as in, hundreds of people in just a few days); and that my Imbolc Hymn, which brought a mighty wave last February and March (as in, thousands), would sink in obscurity. The most popular post of all time on this blog? Learning to Draw the Tree Of Life, only slightly ahead of The Art of Memory. My post on teaching creativity by model, language and value? Basically no one has read it, even though I thought it would be hugely important.
Shows you what I know. Shows you what anyone knows: not much.
And I think that’s the point of daily practice. When I look at the site analytics, it’s surprising: not one of these tai chi posts made the top hundred posts on my blog; they barely made the top five hundred posts. If you read this one entry, chances are you’ll push this one post over fifty views — the vast majority of the tai chi posts on this website have been read fewer than 20 times (not counting the people who read them on the main blog page).
In that context, today’s tai chi practice seems unimportant. Small. Virtually no one will pass by these words again; they’ll vanish into obscurity — and, if ever bandwidth or hard drive space becomes scarce, they will disappear like snow in July in South Dakota… not completely unexpected, but ephemeral nonetheless. Whether it happened fast or slow, whether it was a good or a bad practice day, is less important than that it happened.
For the practices change us. Whether it be writing sonnets some times, or just gutting our way through the entry, or just phoning it in, every day we practice and do not shirk is teaching us something. We’re making the extraordinary work mundane — invisible to ourselves, but visible to others. And whether it is meditation or martial arts, music or comedic improv that we practice, we’re working through stuff. Some days, like today, the body is stiff and unyielding; unhappy to be moving at so early an hour. Other days, it’s easy, and we give thanks for that.
Keep working. You don’t know which days are going to bring great success or just the ‘little failure’ of not being as good as that amazing day last week or last month or last year. Our own ability to sense what our best work is becomes compromised when we work all the time. Let history be the judge, if it wants to be; for now, practice.