108 Names of Now
I start small, standing at the window overlooking the tarmac, One World Trade on the near horizon, startling in its newness, even as today's airplanes take off eerily against it, under cloudless sky. First the chi gong: bend at the waist, arms go back, arms sweep up, body finds the often-rehearsed shapes, which mind finds hard to describe in words. I start small, but it's the seed of a large practice, which I presently find myself cheerfully doing in its entirety - kicks, spins, and all. Empty gates are the vacant lots of air travel, gathering to themselves the oddballs & malingerers in concentric, shifting patterns. This moving isn't a performance - it's an assertion of freedom in an otherwise boredom-steeped, smoothie-slurping nowhere-land. Here I am, loosed to follow the beautiful thread of the 108-move Yang style long form.
As I finish, a sixty-something man in a leather beret comes forward, "What kind of tai chi is that?" He's stoked! Some other lunatic does this thing that's surely a bit of a rarity in Louisville, KY, where he's from. And she's just done a whole bunch of it, right here on the edge of this construction site, with the cherry-picker crane & the scaffolding & the bleary waiting people with overambitious roller bags. I ask him what he practices & he tells me the 12, the 24 , and the 36. He tells me he recognized some of what I did & shows me something that looks midway between Single Whip and Repulse Monkey. He tells me how he's into the martial side of things & not just the health side, see? And the power in the form is in turning the waist.
We repulse a few monkeys together, and then I wish him well on his trip to France, to see a nephew play pro basketball in Aix-les-Bains. Later, when we are in line together to get on the plane, he shows me a picture of himself with the martial teacher and the health teacher on either side & a bigass trophy in his arms. First place tai chi!
Before the dicey airport internet kicked out, I thought I wanted to spend more time in my screen, but the universe was having none of it. Time to move in the world, to kick & spin & spool my way through public space, fully alive, exposed in my awkwardness & furry armpits, open, faltering, flying, putting to good use all that this life & my teachers have taught me.