I’m having a great deal of difficulty mustering energy or interest in tai chi today. I did two iterations of the form, and twenty push-ups, but my heart wasn’t in it. I wrote those two sentences, and felt guilty, and did two more iterations of the form. But really, it’s unpleasantly hot in my apartment, and my lady is away at the Pennsic War, and I’ve got some responsibilities here that need taking care of. It’s a lousy turn of events, and there’s not much to be done about it.
Some of it is that I’ve been doing the same thing for three and a half years, I think. Some of it is the heat, and the sense of personal futility around it. But n truth, this is the standard noonday daemon, accidie, rearing its old head. The changes at this time are minuscule, the rewards minor, the sense that anyone is listening small. Learning a new qi gong form would perhaps be beneficial.
I think I see why people start teaching tai chi after only three or four years of study, actually. Even though the forms of tai chi can take twenty years or more to develop and learn with deep quality, it remains the case that there’s a few years near the middle-start that seem to be affected by this lassitude, where the gong or internal energy hasn’t developed to the point where the practice is self-sustaining. If I’d had a life-threatening illness, and tai chi had saved me as it did Dr. Yang, then I might have motivation to continue. As it is, I want to stop.
But I don’t think I will. I read a quotation today from Socrates, who said something like “No man has the right to remain an amateur in the matter of physical fitness. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” I’d never read this before, and I was surprised. But it turns out that it’s from Xenophon’s Memorabilia, which presents a quite-different side of Socrates that I hadn’t seen before.
Beauty and Strength. The great philosopher Steve Martin once said, trying to teach Rick Moranis to be a ladies’ man by having him wear a good suit, “sometimes you have to change from the inside-out.”
If you’ll excuse me, I still have four tai chi forms to do, and some qi gong, and I think some squats.