Over the years I've daubled with daily writing: diaries, journals, Morning Pages (per Julia Cameron). My writing has always been pleasurable, creative, and cathartic. It has pulled me out of anger and depression, helped me learn how to be more accepting of diabetes, reminded me of the gifts and blessings that surround me, and brought me into a greater understanding of what it means to embrace my humanity.
Writing is one of the few undertakings in my life in which I can become easily lost; time stops or, at the very least, pauses when I'm encircled by thoughts, ideas, words, and sentences. I suppose you could say that the same holds true for my T'ai Chi Chih practice. It's easy to delve into the silence, the peace, and the flow of Chi. It's usually surprising to realize how quickly my half-hour practice begins, then ends. More often than not, my mood is lighter and my step springier after my practice than when I began.
Still, when you undertake a daily practice it's easy to grow bored, to take your efforts for granted, or to forget what your life--or you!--were like before your journey began. Some days this commitment of mine feels like a burden; some days it feels like a gift; and other days, it feels like a wild and wacky "experiment" in patience, fortitude, and trust that my daily T'ai Chi Chih and writing practices do make a difference in my own life and, hopefully, in the lives of my students and others.
Two years ago I envisioned this Thanks-Giving pledge as a path to explore Taoist philosophy, T'ai Chi Chih teachings, and my own inner growth. Now I realize that it is more practical: an exercise in chopping wood and carrying water. The dailyness. The routines. The habits and attitudes of a lifetime are played out in each word, each movement, each moment....
I'm reminded of a brief story I discovered this morning when I pulled a book from my shelf:
ZEN STUDENT: So Master, is the soul immortal or not? Do we survive our bodily death or do we get annihilated? Do we really reincarnate? Does our soul split up into component parts which get recycled, or do we as a single unit enter the body of a biological organism? And do we retain our memories or not? Or is the doctrine of reincarnation false? Is perhaps the Christian notion of survival more correct? And if so, do we get bodily resurrected, or does our soul enter a purely Platonic spiritual realm?
MASTER: Your breakfast is getting cold.
"Mondo on Immortality," from: The Tao is Silent by Raymond M. Smullyan, p. 194Happy Thanksgiving, one and all....