Tai chi Y4D67: raiment

i spent a fair bit of time on the floor yesterday, measuring fabric and cutting it.  I wound up making two pairs of “medieval” pants (basically just big squares of fabric for the legs with a pair of triangular gussets in the crotch, and a drawstring). I also made a jacket, of sorts.  It was nice today to do tai chi in clothes that I’d made the day before. And it was nice to discover that I’d made a mostly-complete outfit, shirt and pants and jacket, belt pouches and belt, for the next time I want to go to a Renaissance fair (ever?)

It’s almost the end of the school year, and I’m feeling my body tense up for the end of school — except that due to snow days we have almost another week to go beyond what my brain says we should have.  Due to schedule vagueries, some of my classes have met for the last time. Others, well… They’re going to meet right up to my last exam on the last day of school. Joy. 

In this context, tai chi today was… Meh. It was nice to do it in clothes I’d made.  That was pretty awesome. It was twenty minutes of practice, so that was good.  But it didn’t feel great, and it didn’t feel bad.  Kind of middle of the road.  

I’m finally back into reading Dr. Yang’s book. He’s talking about cultivating gong, the energy of life, and maintaining that energy and nurturing it. He’s digging deep into scriptures from around the world to try to demonstrate this as a universal truth. I’m not digging the quotations he’s choosing from the Bible, myself.  He’s stretching things a bit. The rest of the book is pretty good. 

But that “universal truth” bit has slammed me the last few days. John Michael Greer wrote about universal vs experiential truth in his column yesterday. And yesterday a woman ran a mime-and-martial-arts program at school, where I was handed one of those ball-on-string-and-stick games where you have to pop the ball into the air and land it on the tip of the stick. Very hard, and yet she put me in front of two hundred people on stage, to try to master it through breathing alone. Pfft. “It’ll just take you a few tries, really!” As she encourage my students to chant encouraging words at me. 

It’s a reminder both that I’m not as good at tai chi as I could be, that I couldn’t do it — and that there is no universally-available “body wisdom” that only a little deep breathing will access instantaneously. This woman’s lived experience might be that most people can get this trick easily, and do it easily. But I didn’t, and can’t get those things without a fair bit of practice. 

Which is why I do tai chi every day, whether I need it or not. 

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