Friday, October 28, 2011

everything counts

In my very limited understanding of Tai Chi, students begin with a series of very slow, very careful and, to my eye, very beautiful movements. Tai Chi may be a martial art that requires opponents, but the first opponent to come to terms with is the student who wishes to study.

The "form" exercises are quite precise. Slow and precise. At first, as I imagine it, there would be the try-and-fail learning curve of getting the body to make the prescribed moves. And at first all efforts would be trained on the body ... getting the hands right, the feet right, the legs right, etc. Bit by bit, abilities would grow. Bit by bit, the body would remember. Slowly, slowly.

And after the body had learned a bit, the distractions of mind might loom larger. There is no moving the hands or feet or legs without a purposefulness of mind ... and the mind is a wandering wily customer. Bit by bit, slowly slowly ... focus the mind. Nothing happens overnight.

And then, in my untutored imagination, a little at a time, the dime might drop: Everything counts ... every toe, every hair follicle, every thought, every emotion, every smell, every joy, every sorrow, every flash of anger, every bit of belly-button lint. Everything counts if anything at all is to count. A whole life, from little to large, is brought to life, right now, always. Thought, word, deed. And getting your head screwed on the right way about that is to welcome the peace that anyone might yearn for in this life.

Things are complete. Always. All of them. They are so complete that calling them complete is the purest sort of bullshit.

Tai Chi, sneezing, laughing, crying, walking, sitting, loving, hating, itching, scratching, swallowing, singing, sleeping, kissing, cheering, jeering .... everything counts. Always. No exceptions.

And it is worth the practice to find out what was obvious from the get-go.

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