Strumming the Pei Pa

This fall I enrolled in a beginner's Tai Chi class. I had always heard of the benefits of this ancient art, with moves called, "Grasp bird's tail", "Carry tiger to mountain", and "Strum the pei pa", so I wanted to give it a try. I enjoyed the class but most of the time I had no idea what I was doing! The moves engage most parts of the body and are a lovely form of "meditation in motion" .... but they are not for the "stupid"!

 Remembering the moves and how they flow together was very challenging for me. Just when I thought I had it right, somehow I would mess up. This has always been my problem when it comes to physical activity that requires rules, strategy or choreography. When I was teaching art to middle school kids, I used to say, "Just because you are in the art room, doesn't mean that you can leave your brain outside the door!" ..... in other words, art making requires careful thought. estimations, and decisions about colour, line, materials etc. Likewise, playing basketball, ballet or doing a "step class" means you need to have your wits about you!

Me and my dance class, I'm 3rd from the left ... cha, cha, cha!

When I was young my mother enrolled me in dance class ..... well that was a s--t show! As much as I wanted to wear cute outfits and tap shoes with the big bows on them, I performed like a total klutz and was always out of sync with everyone else. Later, in high school, I could be found hiding in the equipment room to get out of playing basketball. Games like that have rules and you have to know when to throw the ball and to whom ..... and your teammates yell at you when you put the ball in the wrong net! As an adult I like to keep fit and have tried "step classes". Although no one yells at you, keeping up with the pattern of where your feet are going was too much for me and I spent most of my time during the workout stopping to figure out what the heck I was supposed to be doing!

I have learned over the years that any physical activity that requires more intelligence than a nit is not for me. Walking, I can handle, lifting a weight up and down is okay too .... as long as there are no complicated rules or patterns I'm okay (I could always do a mean somersault or cartwheel though!)

I may revisit Tai Chi someday ..... more to exercise my brain than anything else!

(As a side note, when I was in high school we had this big event. It was a "Folk Dance Festival". The gym teacher taught all the girls different dances from around the world (Balkan, Mexican, Irish, Russian etc.) and the girls involved performed dances from different countries complete with costumes. The PE teacher knew I was a loser in the dance department, but asked me to design the cover of the program! Very sensitive for a gym teacher in the 60's!!)


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