Thursday, February 26, 2009
My mother said I was lazy. Well, what kid likes chores or picking up after themselves. She'd send me to my room and I'd pick up a book to put away and end up sitting down to read it. Didn't matter that I'd read it a number of times. Duties, responsibilities, chores... you name it, I didn't want to have anything to do with it.
As I grew older, I buckled down under what had to be done. I had my children early and they were pretty much out of the nest by the time I reached 30. It was about then that I really started realizing who I was and I started reaching out beyond my narrow world. I wanted to get out of the factory and do something more with my life. My dreams grew.
I listened to lots of audio tapes and read many self help books. I went to massage school and took various classes and seminars. I studied and became certified to teach Healing Tao so that I could teach Tai Chi. I rebuilt my self from bits and pieces of all of that which fueled the fires in my soul.
BUT... I didn't want to do things as I was taught. There always seemed to be such rigamarole. My mother wanted me to be a painter, but I refused to follow the classic styles. I soon became disillusioned with massage because of state pettiness with licensing. I loved Tai Chi, but wasn't interested in past history or traditions. I just couldn't immerse myself in one discipline!
What did that mean? That meant I didn't want to play by someone else's rules. I couldn't follow only one belief system. There are so many good techniques and ideas out there, how can I narrow myself down to one formula? When I moved out of my narrow world, I REALLY opened up!
I began taking bits and pieces of what I believed and developed my own style. I took various healing techniques and created my own routine. My art work became a combination of mediums. I chose one of the Tai Chi forms that I'd learned and worked deeper. Then I began weaving one discipline into another.
I am not a traditionalist. I don't care what happened hundreds of years ago in China or that the particular form came from so and so. What I want to know is how the movements can help in our lives today, here where we are now, in this country. I mean no offense to the traditionalists, but I am not Chinese and never will be, so what I have done is to take the style and create my own form of teaching it.
I take shortcuts. Okay, as Americans most of us want the quick and easy. If it works, why not? I tell my students the intricacies, those things that I figured out on my own. I talk about things that I had been told was only for "advanced students." I want my students to love Tai Chi and make it part of themselves for the rest of their lives. I've seen too often that when it takes too long to "get it," a person will go off and find something else where they will get a more immediate reward.
There's nothing wrong with shortcuts if the end result is positive. I also believe in promoting creativity and individual style. I will teach a more traditional move, but if a person's body style, age, or illness prevents them from doing it accurately, I'm not going to tell them they are wrong. We can adapt the form; after all, we are not in competition. What matters is the movement of energy and working towards better health.
Maybe it's because I enjoy many avenues of life that I look for shorter routes so that I can move on to other things. There's some constants in my life--- Tai Chi, writing, art, healing--- but because I do have fun with so much, I don't want to narrow myself. I take a little of this, some of that, and maybe a bit more of this over here. I pull in the ideas that resonate with me and leave behind that which doesn't ring true.
Mostly though, I feel I have so much within me, that I need to work on it awhile before I "learn" anything new... and not that I'm not learning. It's just that I can learn so much from what I already know. Take Tai Chi, for instance, and again, no offense to the teacher, but we would learn one form after another. You wouldn't even get a chance to really WORK with one form before another would be taught. Sure, you could say, "I know eight Tai Chi forms," but what good is that if you haven't gone deep and really learned what the Tai Chi does? It's like reading book after book and when asked what you've read, you can spout off lines, but if you haven't taken the teaching into your soul, what have you really learned?
So I take the shortcuts to learn the fundamentals. Then I let it stew within and it awakens. It merges with other teachings and beliefs and develops into strengths that I can take out into the world. This is me. It's the little bits and pieces that I have gathered that have helped me discover who I really am and then I go deeper... or is it that I expand...
True enlightenment may only be two or three lifetimes away, ha ha.