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27 September 2005

Hi, Jonas.

I'm up early. Couldn't sleep. Thinking. Then writing:

I've been asking myself lately, Why do I study taiji? I practice my forms [almost] every day. I go through the motions– and some days it's only that: going through the motions. But I do it, and it feels like I'm working a very hard puzzle that occupies my mind completely.

Sometimes, lately, I've thought I only practice taiji because there's nothing else, because I have nothing else in my life.

And sometimes I've thought that I'm using taiji to hide from life because... well, life hurts. Lately.

And sometimes I've thought taiji is an anchor that keeps me from spinning off into the blackness of the Void. And I'm afraid of what might happen if I let go.

But, for all of that, taiji is there for me. Every day. And as you said, it's in everything I do.

I realized a while back, after you started teaching us push hands, that I'm learning to listen not only in taiji, but in life as well. And now, after last night's grappling lesson... Grappling is about listening and responding to what you hear-- responding correctly. That takes a lot of practice.

I'm not very good at grappling yet, as you know. I don't hear perfectly, nor do I know exactly how to respond. But I am learning. Because you and the others are allowing me to play with you– and to make the mistakes I need to make in the learning process.

But it's more than that. Taiji isn't just a peculiar hobby we all share. It's not confined to a basement room, or to Tuesday nights. It's Life. All our lives, bound up together, day in and day out, together and apart. And yet, we are each separate and distinct...

You made fun of me last night for being "too kind" in my grappling responses. And you are right. I still err often by "saying" far too little. I do this in life and in taiji.

In taiji I hold back my physical responses because I'm afraid of hurting someone and being banished for it. In life, I hold a part of myself back from others because I am afraid I'll be the one hurt– which is very strange, because I think of myself as being quite fearless. In fact, I don't scare easy. But that's because I'm very confident in my armor.

It's hard for me to talk to people I don't know well. It's hard for me to get to know people well. I'm still learning how to "push" with you, and with the others in class. In taiji and in life.

I am glad I found you and Joe and the others. Glad that you are allowing me to practice my taiji and life skills on you. I know I make a lot of mistakes.

But today, because of you and grappling, I got my question answered. Why do I practice taiji? Because that's the only way to live life. Try to listen, try to respond correctly. When I do get it right, the feeling is indescribable.

There will never be an end to practice. I don't mind, though, now that I know why I'm doing it.

. . . .

I'll be interested to hear what you think after reading Martial Musings. I feel as if I am personally acquainted with Robert W. Smith now. Not many writers make you feel that way. He knew about taiji being life...

Jonas... When I saw you last night as I came in... I thought there was something... wrong. I didn't know what to say, so I teased you about being recently weed-whacked. I may be stone deaf in a lot of ways, but my intuition has always worked pretty well. Ummmm.... how do I say this? Eat. Take care of yourself. You are loved. For yourself. And if you didn't need to hear that, chalk it up as another of my mistakes, please. And this email, too, come to that, thank you.

I am so glad you are teaching us grappling. I just hope someday I get to be good at it.

– L

P.S. Do you really wear a tie to work? Every day?


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