Practice for Life

Yesterday I went to Tai Chi practice. I left those heavy, warm covers early on a Saturday and hurried my morning tea. Skipped the face lotion. By the doorway, grabbed my hat and gloves (“in case your car breaks down and you are standing by the side of the road for an hour” I hear my mother’s voice from the grave.). In the moment of grabbing hat and gloves, I put down my Tai chi slippers and leave them behind.

In the church meeting hall, dimly lit by wan winter window light, I decide to stay and practice in my slippery socks that- of course- have a hole.

Throughout the settling, smooth cycles of practicing the form in unison with my silent group, my mind inevitably wanders. I look at the yellow bus in the parking lot outside the window in front of me, and try to make it into something like William Carlos Williams’ red wheelbarrow. Or the prunes in the icebox. Nothing comes- its just a parked bus. I hear intermittent clanks and tones from the water in the pipes, heating the church. They sound like a slow-mo, crazy wind chime. Or John Cage composition, as the audience walks out. I notice practitioners around me and shame myself for judging their wobbles. I find a place in my form to judge, and doubt, and try it different ways as we repeat, repeat our movements. I blur my vision and try to feel the unison of the group’s movement.

I seek mindfulness and find “monkey mind,” attention bouncing around. Yet I also settle into the earth and feel my body flowing above. I forgot my shoes and had a hole in my sock. Continue on, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

6 thoughts on “Practice for Life

  1. I love the honesty of your piece. I end your piece hopeful. Through the repeat, repeat, repeat and showing up without the right shoes and a hole in your sock, you are there, seeking mindfulness. That gives me hope! Thanks for sharing. Favorite phrase: dimly lit by wan winter window light


  2. You describe the thoughts running through your head so well. I’ve heard the clanking pipes in a big old church before, but you bring the sounds to life (wind chimes, Cage composition). And how funny that your socks had a hole in them – wonder what your mom would have had to say about that.


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