Why I do my Tai Chi
May 2, 2009
I am currently writing an article for a professional journal on dementia care. It is about the creative process in relation to this area. And I am having a hard time. So much of what I want to say, even though it is about intangibles, has been proven out by my day to day experience as an artist. Yet will require practical reasoned out arguments to explain this to a scientifically educated public.
What they need to do to understand what I’m saying is not read an article, but pick up paints and tackle a canvas, or move to music, or sculpt a piece of stone.
Artists learn to value process over product, that is where the learning and alchemy take place. What touched me so profoundly in the ‘Cellist of Sarajevo’ was the huge power of an intended gesture. The cellist himself probably didn’t even know exactly why he put his life in danger every day for 3 weeks to play in a war zone- to memorialize people he didn’t even know. The ‘why’s’ are not important. What was important was the potency of such a commitment, and the way it touched and transformed countless others. Music was a perfect answer to, ‘How can we overcome hate , fear, and death?’
There is a YouTube clip which shows Antwerp train station, busy and noisy. All at once, a song from a musical plays over the loud speakers. About a minute after that, one of the travellers breaks out in a dance, He is joined by a little girl; the dance, beautifully choreographed and obviously professional, takes on more and more people, until there are probably more dancers than public. It is a heart stopping moment of beauty and seeming spontaneity.
One of the more dull comments under the clip asked,’Well, what was the purpose of this’?
We need to leave behind our literal mindedness and make room for poetry and enchantment in every day life.
What is the ‘purpose’ of doing my Tai Chi in the mornings when I don’t feel much like it? Do I do it for the positive effect it is supposed to have on my health? Or as a meditation? Or as a routine?
I do my Tai Chi because I do my Tai Chi. And once in a while, I do my Tai Chi as a prayer to life, or a memorial to a dead friend. And I do the movements to reconnect me to the place that has nothing to do with writing articles, ageing, career, household tasks. It is the part that is one with the new cherry blossoms, the waves in the sea, the hiss of stars on a summer night. The big sun and big moon and all the seasons.
And I remember.