Blog

Stories from a life in progress.

Drat Newton, anyway

A couple of weeks ago I was all excited about the prospect of figuring out school and finances and making big changes this year.

Then Christmas happened and now I'm sitting at my desk, wondering what on earth the fuss was all about.  Nothing feels very important right now.

I enjoy studying tai chi for a lot of reasons, but one idea I find practical for studying everyday life is momentum.  Newton wasn't trying to write self-help with his laws, but the first one applies to more than the physical movement of solid objects.  When we feel momentum toward doing something, it's easier to keep going.  When we feel stationary, it's easiest to just stay put.  It takes more energy to change directions, always.

Christmas week was really busy, and then I needed some time to breathe out the tension from that, and now I'm sitting at my desk, inert.  No motion toward anything I think is important.  It's hard to start again.  I don't exactly know how to do it.

Tai chi teaches me that it's always easier to keep motion going than to stop and restart motion.  It's easier to gently direct energy toward where you want rather than to make hard breaks and changes.

Tai chi teaches me that the easiest way to get going is to let gravity work: the beginning of every form is sinking, relaxing and letting gravity begin motion, rather than leaping into action.

I'm taking hold of these ideas with both hands today, because I need them to ward off feeling like a hopeless schlump.  Stillness is a moment of possibility, not a character judgment.  It takes energy to break inertia, but inertia CAN be broken.  I don't manage momentum very well in my working life, but that doesn't mean I can't get better at it.  I didn't understand how to work with physical momentum very well when I started tai chi classes four years ago.  I'm a lot better at it now.

How to start again?  

Like this.  Write something and publish it.  Then write another thing.

I'm moving now.