Just today I was at work and a co-worker asked me where I practiced Tai Chi, because I had mentioned yesterday that I do form. It was with a pang of sadness that I answered her that I practice on my own because my teacher had died. To my knowledge, there is no-one teaching Tai Chi in town anymore, except for one I’ve heard of who teaches Sun style in a Tai Chi for Seniors class at a rec center somewhere. I’m 43, and I work full time, so the class is not for me.
The journey into re-discovering my Tai Chi and Ruby’s teachings has been both delightful and challenging. It’s been delightful in the sense that I have become reacquainted with many of the things I remember so fondly from his class. “In and out and shift and twist”, the way he would talk about Taoist philosophy and the way he would urge us to open our eyes and pay attention to the world around us. It has been good to revisit these lessons, and to remember some of the finer points of the form that I have forgotten.
The challenge comes in the simple fact that he’s gone and I no longer have a teacher. I could be doing things in my form that are atrocious, but I’m not aware of them simply because there is no-one to see me and correct me. Whatever form I learned from Ruby, it has become my own form now – but hopefully faithful to what he taught. I have these lessons only in audio, so everything I get out of them that relates to the form has to come from my memory and what is being vocally described.
I would not trade this journey, though. It feels very right to me to be returning to Tai Chi and the study of Taoism. After Ruby died, I guess I tried to replace Tai Chi with a practice of yoga. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the yoga practice and learned quite a lot from it. But it never really settled in as being authentically “me” to practice yoga. Tai Chi does.
I don’t know where I’ll go from here, long term. I’m about half-way through the lessons. I’ve remembered my short form and practice it regularly. The evenings are warm enough now that I can go outside and begin working on remembering my sword form. I hope to begin that within the next month.
I do sometimes wonder if I myself could someday wind up teaching Tai Chi. Not too sure about that. If I did, I somehow think that would be aways off in the future. For now, I am content to be where I am.