I did tai chi this morning. It went really well. But then I was running late for an appointment with a friend for brunch. And then I was running late for an appointment for a rehearsal with my debate team. And then I was driving through the snow, trying to get home. All in all, a day of running around being crazy, rather than a typically-restful Sunday.
But, I wound up doing tai chi again this evening, after letting dinner digest a bit. I’m finding that a little qi gong in the evening, before I go to sleep, is actually quite restful and useful. That’s especially going to be true today, because I have a challenging two weeks ahead. Debate quarter- and semi-finals are Tuesday this week; I’m hoping to finish up the furniture for the new design lab on Wednesday and Thursday; the head for the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz pretty much has to be finished by Monday, or next Friday at the latest; and there are two major workshops in the evening and afternoon in the next two weeks, for which I have to order parts and assemble kits for construction by students (based on how many students we have signed up).
It’s been challenging figuring out how to move from my “completion is the goal” to the “half-hour of practice is the goal” and from my “movement is the objective” patterns toward “movement through water as Dr. Yang suggests, as the objective.” This morning’s practice was lackadaisical. And I can feel the energy levels I achieved at the retreat two weeks ago beginning to slip away because I’m not practicing to that level of intensity. This is a problem…. or not a problem. A challenge. And an opportunity.
And that’s sort of the point. When I was being guided by teachers, back in the late 1990s, first at the retreat and then later by my personal teacher, I did very well. Then I learned how to do it on my own, and establish my own daily practice. But now that I have had direct teaching again, I have to figure out how to move from where I am, toward where my teachers would like me to be. And that’s humbling, but necessary. And so just because I can’t do it today, is no reason not to try again tomorrow.
At the top of the mountain, we see another mountain… and the valley between them.
Interestingly enough, this is where I am in my druidic practice: atop the mountain. My druidic society uses the symbolism of geomancy as part of its training regimen. Currently, I’m doing a series of workings involving what we call Bendith Fach, what traditional geomancy calls Fortuna Minor, or Lesser Fortune. The traditional image associated with this geomantic character is a man with a staff standing atop a mountain. Standing on top of a mountain is of course an achievement. It’s a great thing to stand on top of a mountain, and to be able to take in the amazing views rolling away from you in every direction.
But the challenge, of course, is that one has to come down from the mountain-top. And going down involves very nearly as many risks as going up in the first place. Real success is only achieved when one comes back from the lonely and wild waste-places of the wilderness, and takes up residence again in the happy town of the valley — which is itself the traditional image of Bendith Fawr, or Fortuna Major — great success by one’s own efforts, achievement attained and completed, success fully integrated.
So that’s been the lesson of the last few days, weeks even — I’ve reached the mountain-top, and achieved a great deal of success. But now I have to earth that accomplishment, and make it manifest in my own daily life, and return to my valley home in the midst of my community, and have that success be rooted in who I am and where I live.
The journey back down is probably as long as the journey up, if prior experience is any guide.