Many, many years ago, I was feeling rather emotionally battered after a failed relationship… a relationship which had always been doomed to failure. As with many lovers, my rose-tinted spectacles were firmly on my nose and I dreamed the impossible dream, etc. etc. clichéed etc…. I had moved to a new house, away from my friends and familiar places, to a part of town where other friends lived… except the closes of those other friends moved two hundred miles away, another friend had a baby, another got married… and I was on my own…. It was a bad time, but I won’t dwell on it!
One thing which was a little bit of light in the pall of gloom I’d cast around myself, was the Tai Chi group I joined. we had a great teacher called John, who was helped by his partner Barbara, and another teacher whose name I don;’t recall but reminded me of my cousin Richard, so that’s what I’ll call him.
The group consisted of all sorts of people, Linda who was a teacher like me, Kelvin who worked for the council and was a similar age to us, another John who was a fireman, a big beefy, handsome man, Bert who was a huge and scruffy ex-sailor who was very rough and who nobody wanted to partner, some middle-aged ladies, and a couple of wispy youths. We were all different shapes and sizes, different abilities, and with different reasons for being there. Some people wanted gentle exercise, some wanted a more spiritual support, some were just there for recreation and fun.
I haven’t got a very good sense of balance… or I hadn’t then… it really improved over the three years I was in the class. I hadn’t a good memory for physical sequences and got in a terrible muddle about which move followed which… but it was the sort of class where there was gentle amusement at my confusion, and kindly support from teachers and participants alike. I have a poor sense of timing and was always one step behind or one arm-wave ahead of the rest of the group, rather like Corporal Jones in ‘Dad’s Army’… but it really didn’t matter because I was trying hard, doing my best, and improving week by week.
John and Richard were marvellous teachers, I think John was a teacher as his day-job, Richard worked at a dye factory, often stirring paint, which he did in a meditative Tai Chi sort of way, he told us, making us laugh at the image of him doing so.
I wish I could find another Tai Chi class; I loved doing it, it gave me so much… I was physically fitter and more balanced, and mentally and emotionally I was much, much fitter, and back to my old happy well-balanced state; I found it spiritually engaging and it was more than anything enjoyable and fun. How could I worry about my broken heart when I was trying to remember which foot I should be balancing on, where the other foot should be and whether my arms should be up, down, waving, still, pointing or waving? And who could resist the captivating names of the moves… here are some of them…
- Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane
- White Crane Spreads its Wings
- Play the Lute
- Step Back and Repulse Monkey
- Grasp the Sparrow’s Tail
- Single Whip
- Wave Hands Like Clouds
- High Pat on Horse
- Snake Creeps Down
- Golden Cockerel Stands on left leg
- Fair Lady Weaves the Shuttle
- Needle at the Bottom of the Sea