Tai Chi Y4D365: Almost/Spirit

One more day. One more dawn. One day more.  Two qi gong forms, four tai chi forms.

For whatever reason, today I was having ‘sticky feet’, and had a hard time on spins and turns. Also, there’s a bunch of stuff in boxes on the floor in the office today, as we’re moving stuff around, so there’s less space than usual for me to work.  Time to make some adjustments and put stuff away.

Traditionally, I end the year on Day 366, which is tomorrow.  It feels like I should say something deep and meaningful, though, even though I’ve recently considered Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Spirit? Maybe tomorrow.

Actually, no.  Spirit. Now.

Yesterday I was flying home from Florida; I’d spent part of last week taking care of my mom after her eye surgery.  No sooner had the flight crew closed the compartment when a baby two or three rows behind me started wailing its head off.    I mean, three different kinds of crying. The baby would cry and shriek one way, then take a breath, then shriek and cry another way, and then take a breath, and then cry and shriek and cry a third way. This would be an awful way to spend three hours.

I rolled my eyes.  I’m sure we’ve all been in this situation, all been in this position of potential trauma — a baby’s first flight, it’s terrified, you can’t explain what’s going on, or why your ears hurt, or anything, because it’s a baby, it doesn’t understand language, or anything.

But then I thought of Peter Capaldi, and Doctor Who. He says things like, “I speak baby,” all the time.  Well, maybe only twice.  But he says them.  And a martial art should not be only for defeating opponents.  It’s also for protecting the weak, and guidance in difficult times. Robert Mitchell from time to time has written about the ethical role of martial arts, that it has a spirit and a guiding principle or three, and it occurred to me that this was the time.

There’s a gesture or sigil that comes out of the Reiki tradition, which I learned about and received my first attunement for, from the then-girlfriend/romantic partner of my tai chi teacher.  It’s for emotional or mental healing.  And there’s another one that is used for long-distance healing.

I did one of these motions with my left hand, and one with my right hand, and closed my eyes.  I thought to myself, “I speak baby,” and then spoke in my mind, “hello there.”

The shrieking two or three rows backed changed.  And I mean changed.

Hello. I heard back.

“Your crying and your shrieking is going to be upsetting to all these people.”  Keep in mind that this is all silent on my end, but the baby is still crying.

Who are you?

“I’m a friend.”

All these people are strangers.  And I’m afraid. And there’s noises, and strange smells.

“And I bet you’re hungry, and you probably just pooped, too.”


“Awesome. So… all these strangers around you, they’re going to be around for three or four hours.  You’ll probably get fed and changed soon, but not right away, because we’re all busy going somewhere.  And there are going to be some weird pains in your ears and the air may feel funny. And those things are normal.”

They are?

The third type of crying two rows behind me stops.  Now it’s just two types of crying, and one of them is kind-of half-hearted.

Yes.  Oh, and another thing:  All of these people around you are patient. They’ve been waiting a long time.  But if you’re crying for a long time, they will be angry, and angry at you.  So let your mom and dad know — hey, you are traveling with mom and dad, right?”


“OK, so let them know quietly what’s wrong, that you’re hungry, you need changing. Otherwise all these people will be mad at you and mad at your mom and dad.”

Oh. That makes sense.  They wouldn’t let me come to harm, right? Just because it smells weird, this doesn’t have to be scary, right?


The crying stops completely.  Completely.

So who are you?  

“A friend.  And it’s nice to meet you.  Have you ever flown before?”

Nice to meet you too.  Flying? We’re about to go flying?

“Yes, we’re about to go flying.  It’s not as much fun as it used to be, but it’s a quick way to travel over long distances.  We’ll travel almost a thousand miles before dark. Hey…Do you think you and I can keep all these strangers calm? For the whole flight?”

I think so.

And the rest of the flight is utterly quiet, no screaming baby, no angry passengers.   Every so often I hear the infant’s quiet laughter.  Quiet giggles. At the end of the flight, I’ve completely forgotten that I’d ever done anything like this, and anyway, it’s all an exercise in imagination, right?  None of this conversation really happened, and I didn’t really communicate telepathically with a baby upset about flying for the first time.

Except that at baggage claim, there’s an infant on the other side of the conveyer belt, who simply can’t take her eyes off of me.

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  1. This is why you are awesome. Because you’re always so practical and hands-on and working magic through making and building and moving your body… and yet here’s the proof of the payoff of all your effort. Wonderful wonderful wonderful.

  2. Oh this is beautiful. I’ve used this technique on obnoxiously barking dogs in a neighborhood. I can’t in good conscience tell them it’s going to be ok. But I apologize that they’ve been left outside alone and I promise them that, I, at least, do love them and they are indeed a good dog. I try to tell them that all their barking isn’t going to change their situation at the moment. And they’d be better served to just relax and maybe try to take a nap.
    The dog quiets down maybe 60 to 70% of the time.
    Also. I do not tell many people that I do such things. But there you have it.
    Congrats on calming a scared little person.


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