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17 November 2000

You have no idea how many people own wind chimes until you go for a walk late of a windy night. The folks at the corner of Maple Street have the best one. The pipes are thick and long, producing a mellow alto tone, and the pipes are also "tuned," so the chimes always play a melody. It reminds me of happy Chinese music. I gotta get me one of those chimes.

Tonight, I treated myself: I bought books— and a sumi brush. Well, actually, it's just a round brush that I'm going to practice some kanji calligraphy with, but it's pretty much the right kind of brush for kanji calligging (I know that's not a real word, but I hate always saying "doing calligraphy," so, long ago, I coined the verb.). I was inspired by one of the books I found tonight: Sword and Brush: The Spirit of the Martial Arts by Dave Lowry. "Forty-two examples of calligraphy, accompanied by essays, show how the way of the brush reflects the strategic principles of the way of the sword... What becomes clear is that these two disciplines partake of the same profound elemental spirit." I've been practicing calligraphy since I was thirteen. I didn't think his calligraphy was particularly good, but what do I know? I still couldn't resist.

Nor could I resist the other books:

  • The Essence of T'ai Chi by Waysun Liao
  • 108 Insights into Tai Chi Chuan: A String of Pearls by Gilman
  • 101 Reflections on Tai Chi Chuan by Gilman
  • Martial Arts Teaching Tales by Fauliot
  • Ultimate Guide to Tai Chi, Little & Wong, editors

These aren't the nuts-and-bolts books by any means— except the Essence one, of course, but they're what I need. I've always approached learning backwards. I begin with intuition and proceed back through philosophy, and thence back to the mechanics. To work the other way always confuses me and makes me grumpy. I've never been any good at learning from textbooks. (Ask my teachers!) But, once I know something of the subject, books is where I go to refine my understanding.

The book of teaching tales is an excellent find. I think I may be able to use some of them for my storytelling. And they also may give me some ideas for writing my own teaching tales. I'm really looking forward to exploring the possibilities.

And then, of course, I picked up a copy of T'ai Chi Magazine. I enjoy the magazine immensely, the articles are quite helpful and interesting, if sometimes strangely translated— but I've got to tell you the ads give me the pip. There are an awful lot of frootloops out there trying to make a buck! Good thing for the magazine; annoying for me.

I'm glad I decided to go to the bookstore tonight. It was while I was thumbing through the books, reading passages here and there that my thinking finally cleared. Like the tumblers of a combination lock falling into place, suddenly everything lined up perfectly and the lock opened and— it's a good feeling.

I'm not sure I can even begin to explain what it was that was making me hurt, though. But the surprising thing was this: it was my Western way of thinking that was getting me into trouble. Remember what I was saying about changing when you learn a new language? Well, my study of t'ai chi and qigong and Reiki have been changing me and the way I see and experience the world. And that was in conflict with my old ways of thinking. Once I figured that out, I felt much better. And I wasn't long in deciding that I'd outgrown my old ways of thinking, so I dropped 'em like a hot brick, and, like magic, the anger and frustration dissipated to be replaced by a deep feeling of confidence that my path is correct for me and that everything is going just as it should—

Ha! It'll be interesting to see just how long that feeling lasts!


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