Matthew, my 10 year old, and I are going to take a tai chi class together, starting next week. I have thought about doing this off and on since studying Traditional Chinese Medicine last summer, given how I really need to find some way to exercise as well as find a way to deal constructively with stress. Visiting the arboretum over the weekend and seeing the taiko drummers perform their routines with such balletic grace revived the idea in my mind. So the boy, who needs this for the same reasons I do, and I are going to give tai chi a try. Do any of my readers practice tai chi, or a related martial art? If so, please give me an idea of what to expect, and how Matthew and I should prepare ourselves for these classes.
UPDATE: Why am I doing this? In part because of what a friend and colleague said to me when I told her I’d just signed up for tai chi. She said, “I can’t imagine having to move that slow.”
“Exactly,” I told her. “Me neither. Which is why I really need to learn how to do it.”
Dr. Abraham Verghese puts it another way:
These days it isn’t often that one gets to slow down and disconnect, much as one may wish for it. Indeed, when the slowdown comes unexpectedly (think Iceland volcano and cancelled air flights) the level of annoyance, irritation, desperation and suffering suggest that the last thing we want is to slow down. We just want to talk about slowing down. It’s as if being wistful about this is a virtue. I have yet to read that a stranded passenger said, “I was stuck in London, so I bought a guide book, a pair of sneakers, and I’m having the time of my life.” Instead, I’m reading about $10,000 taxi rides from Oslo to Rome, or how the Chancellor of Germany (who was just at Stanford on Thursday) is on an odyssey that began when she flew out of SFO. She’s on armored bus now, heading home via Italy. Jeez, Chancellor, you could have just hung out with us in Palo Alto. The good news is that by all accounts she is enjoying the adventure.
I was thinking about all those people stranded on vacation and unable to get home, wondering why they were complaining (assuming they could afford the extra cost, that is). What a wonderful gift, to be forced by circumstances beyond your control to stay in a different city for the time being, and to have the opportunity to explore. I wish I were like that in my everyday life. I really do need to learn how.