Letting go

This morning when it came time to practice taiji, I tried again to work on a movement I’ve been fighting with for a few weeks: the “hand separation” in Fu-style liangyiquan. It starts with a sweeping backward step, and when my teacher looked at this step those few weeks ago, he said part of it is all wrong in a way I hadn’t realized at all, and I struggled hugely to understand his explanation of how it should work, and I have been struggling with it ever since.

This morning I tried it again, tried to sweep my legs and settle my feet in a way that might be correct (though at this point I can hardly tell). I felt that I failed to gain any insight or improvement, again, and I flopped myself down and burst into tears. I have been pushing away this feeling of frustration over my non-progress, making myself turn to calmness and keep working, but this morning I was done. I didn’t cry over it long, but I did cry. I hate fighting with this movement. I hate being beaten by it.

After having my cry, and then having a deep breath, I remembered something my teacher said a good while ago. I think he had it from one of his teachers, and now I have it too. When you work on something and can’t get it, it’s okay, maybe you’ll get it tomorrow. If not tomorrow, that’s okay, maybe it’ll come next year. If not next year, maybe in ten years. If not in ten years, maybe by the end of your life it will come. And if it doesn’t come by the end of your life … what does it matter? It doesn’t. Let it go.

I thought about that (which may not be exactly what my teacher said or his teacher said, but it is what came to me), and realized I have one choice, only one certain way I can stop fighting with this movement. I can let it go. I don’t mean I’ll never work on it again, or that I’ll never understand it, or that I don’t want to. But if I don’t get it, if I reach the end of my life and never understand the hand separation, what will it matter? I can think of so many things that are more important to me, that I would rather make sure I do by that time. If I never ever learn to do this well, my life will not thereby earn a failing score. It doesn’t matter. I can let go of the fight. I can let go of my need for perfection here. I can let this go.

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