Don’t Panic, Pt. 9: Together, Apart

This week I had the opportunity to join a 10-hour, worldwide Tai Chi celebration via Zoom. I didn’t do 10 hours of Tai Chi, but I did a lot. I was pleasantly exhausted, infinitely calm, and genuinely uplifted.

The most beautiful part of it was having teachers lead the kata from Australia, Israel, Italy, and the United States. They invited us into their homes and studios connecting the hundreds of participants in a single purpose. Even though we were apart, we were together.

Tai Chi in the living room is different from practicing in a studio. One of the things missing from the Zoom experience is the soft “psh” of other people’s shoes on the floor as an auditory cue for the next move. Zoom also lacks form adjustment from a teacher (vital if you are just starting your Tai Chi journey!). There’s only me and a screen.

But on the screen, some teachers have their pets lounging on the floor like I do. Some have to shorten their steps or adjust their placement like I do. They’ve likely moved the furniture around like I have.

One thing that is the same is what happens in my mind during the kata. To remember the movements, I made up ridiculous (and totally unofficial) mnemonics to remember the moves: the moon goes up and down, …, hug a tree, sweep, serve the tea (on a flat hand!), remove it, push your guest out, …, cover the pot, push it, flip it, …, hold the baby, …, revolving door, uppercut, …, Hello Waldorf-Astoria, …, aim a gun, frame the moon, …, cloud hands, …, flamingo, …, kick, diagonal step back, sumo wrestler, fists, …, fireworks, kick, break a stick on bent knee, double punch to opponent’s forehead, …, curtsy, …, chicken beak spin, …, four corners, …, chicken eats, dragon snake slide backwards, …, Pink Panther, …, ball, banner, …, gather infinity energy, and end. Whew!

With all that in my mind as well as coordinating my arms and legs, I have a smile on my face (like you’re supposed to when practicing Tai Chi), and for that time, absolutely nothing else matters.

With love and thanks to the Israel Center for Tai Chi! (See my post several years ago about Tai Chi in Israel.)

*Full disclosure: I haven’t been active in the Tai Chi community for a long time, but I happen to be on the mailing list. This connection was gifted to me by the Universe reminding me how much I enjoyed the the moving meditation of the kata. I once knew the whole kata well enough to lead it in class, so these past weeks and especially this World Tai Chi Day have been a way for me to ignite my muscle memory and relearn the kata. I am truly grateful!