Monthly Archives: June 2008

Tai Chi/Taoism Paradoxes

Another cor­re­la­tion between the phys­i­cal expres­sion of Tai Chi and philo­soph­i­cal ideas of Taoism is the ubiq­ui­tous exis­tence of para­dox­es in both. There are con­tra­dic­to­ry answers to many ques­tions, and at the same time, the answers are very sim­ple (a para­dox in itself).

An exam­ple from Tai Chi is the pos­ture of the p’eng shape. If you’re too stiff, you can be pushed over eas­i­ly. If you’re too relaxed, you can be col­lapsed eas­i­ly. People make the mis­take of think­ing that you have to be one or the either — that you’re either resist­ing a force or let­ting it move you — with­out under­stand­ing that there exists a “some­where in between”. It’s dif­fi­cult to explain how some­thing can be struc­tured and relaxed at the same time.

A Taoist exam­ple is the idea of wu wei, or “action with­out action”. Practically speak­ing, it’s the con­cept that you don’t do any­thing that isn’t nec­es­sary, and by remain­ing reac­tionary you let nature (or the inter­ac­tion of Heaven and Earth, as Taoists roman­ti­cal­ly say) run it’s course. In doing so, “noth­ing is done yet noth­ing is left undone”.

Last class, my teacher said “Tai Chi is easy, that’s why so few peo­ple do it well.” His words remind­ed me of verse 70 of the Tao Te Ching.

My teach­ings are very easy to under­stand
  and very easy to teach
yet so few in this world under­stand
  and so few are able to prac­tice

The answers remain elu­sive and dif­fi­cult to explain because they must be felt, as in Tai Chi, or expe­ri­enced, as in Taoism, a char­ac­ter­is­tic of the para­dox­i­cal nature of both the ancient Chinese mar­tial art and phi­los­o­phy.

Lysergic Bliss

There’s a ten­der­ness that reach­es deep with­in me, and bur­geons forth to paint the world an intox­i­cat­ing spec­trum.

It’s a world where every song is a jour­ney, every chord is more dul­cet than the last, and I don’t want to, I need to dance.

It’s not a sim­ple feel­ing. There’s so much to con­sid­er — new real­iza­tions, unfa­mil­iar ter­ri­to­ry, ques­tions of fate, unre­solved pro­pri­eties, inevitable change — that it’s all a mix of emo­tions unlike any­thing I’ve ever expe­ri­enced. But who says that life has to be sim­ple? All I know for sure is that I love her, even if she doesn’t love me the same way.

And for now, I’ll wear this smile like my heart on my sleeve.

A Bittersweet Indulgence

Our bod­ies burn like flames in an oven, so we kick off the cov­ers. I slip my arm around her waist and press her body close to mine. She holds my hand to her chest, fin­gers wrapped around fin­gers, legs wrapped around legs.

The morn­ing light comes in blue and soft and sub­tle through the win­dow, and the stars begin to fade.

I want to hold her like this under a tree in the sum­mer and pass the time in her com­pa­ny, alive to every moment we’re togeth­er. I want to hold her like this when the cars and streets are buried under snow out­side, so we may tru­ly know what it is to be warm and com­fort­able. I want to run my fin­ger along the soft­ness of her face, so I may learn every land­mark and fea­ture, and nev­er for­get. I want to read to her my favourite books on lazy Sunday after­noons, so I can take her to where they’ve tak­en me. I want to feel her breath against my skin, the breath that gives her life, and me joy. I want to wake up to find she’s not away in anoth­er bed, but next to me, lost in slum­ber, for there can be no oth­er such sim­ple hap­pi­ness.

This is where I’m per­fect­ly con­tent, lost in a moment when time has stopped and noth­ing else mat­ters.

But I know it won’t last for­ev­er. She’ll soon be gone. I won’t be the one to do these things with her, the one to love her the way she was meant to be loved, the one to love her as deeply as she deserves. There’s no use in think­ing about it now.

I’ve fall­en for this muse in my arms, totale­ment, ten­drement, trag­ique­ment.

The one who inspires me to cre­ate won­der­ful things, to make beau­ty as I see it in her, so that oth­ers may share in this feel­ing. If I had a mil­lion words to describe her grace, it still would­n’t be enough.

I could be sad, but I’d rather be hap­py instead.

So as the sun begins to rise, I indulge myself a lit­tle longer, and hold her clos­er before drift­ing off to sleep.