“I know what I have sent. I do not know what you have received.”
I have written numerous essays in the course of trying to say that which needs to be said, in order to explain or transmit an understanding about what profound changes to expect in your body/being after years of tai-chi, or the many great ways you will feel, or the way it staves off the daily ravages of father time’s incessant ticking, all of them trying to pin the tail on that particular donkey. I am not sure which ones are closest to the mark, so I offer many here whose subject matters overlap. It is just a consequence of starting from a different point around the circle, then heading for the same center. So please peruse at will, with my wishes that you find the stones I left and cross the stream without getting your feet wet. I did make a deal with father time to keep his fine time piece oiled and running smoothly, so it didn’t wear out, and he agreed to stop counting my days for as long as I did the upkeep. It’s a fair contract. He’s a really nice guy if you take care of the equipment.
So these essays or excursions into the realm of Tai-chi, or even better yet, the land that lies between T’ai-chi Ch’üan and the normal, everyday, work-a-day world knowledge of movement, are simply my attempts to reach you from where I stand after 30 years of practice. These essays are forays into a personally unknown field, in search of an unknown creature that looks a lot like ourselves, but moves like a cat. It is my hope that in the pages ahead you find some random sightings of your true self, gracefully slipping around corners amid scattered glimpses of your future. It is not that we can change. It is actually that we cannot help but constantly change in some direction. It is therefore, our obligation to ourselves to take charge of that natural process of change and steer our biological presence into becoming beings who are unimaginable to our current selves, who are full of foresight, insight and empathy and ability. We can become beings who are conscious enough to cook and eat healthy meals, help senior ladies across the street, “leap tall buildings in a single bound” (when needed), or put a baby to sleep with a warm, reassuring and peaceful hand on the head.
This is the true realm of the T’ai-chi artist. A conscious, gentle, caring, protector of self and others. A steward of Earth of the highest order. This meditative martial art, dance of longevity aligns the human being with its true functions and purpose. Practitioners become resiliently fit, astutely aware and remarkably capable. It is my sincere hope that somewhere in this preface or in the collection of essays, I get the words in the correct order to engender in you, the inspiration for the aspiration of scaling T’ai-chi’s marvelous edifice. I can certainly tell you from here in my own journey, that while at the start, your boat may be a bit shaky, as you sail out into the middle of that great ocean, the waters calm down until the seas are smooth as glass and the sailing as effortless as breathing.
“The words printed here are concepts.
You must go through the experiences.”