Slow mover that I am, I’ve always been into yoga.
Too, I’ve always been curious about an even slower-motion form of health-seeking: Tai Chi.
During the few times I’ve been to one of Wenzhou’s dense parks…
and climbed the network of their steep stairways (that’s not me)…
I’ve often come across open spaces, where young and old alike are gently engaged in this ancient practice…
and fantasized about joining them to bask in the communal well-being.
There was something very alluring about the combination of natural setting, authentic practitioners and the eerie bubble of calm that was created when the gathered were moving ever so slowly, in perfect rhythm, to a soundless tune.
Two things were preventing me from granting myself even a temporary membership to this community:
1) the ungodly hour at which I assumed they must get up from sleep to go to the park
A few days ago however, encouraged after discovering a friend of like mind, I overcame the first problem and met her at 6:45am.
We wound our way through the park – teeming with early morning exercisers of all forms, and most of them seniors! – and found a group of elderly folks in the middle of a session.
Faced with the real thing, at the right time, our first reaction was to sit on the periphery and just watch.
The ghost of my sacrificed sleep was having none of this reticence. It quickly succeeded in guilting me to get up off the cold stone, hang my purse on one of the metal hooks set up for that purpose, and position myself beside the lovely white haired mama in the gray pants (in the dead center of image above).
I started with a timid imitation of her motions, fully expecting to be chased away.
She was amused by my efforts and gave me encouraging grandmotherly nods and indications to adjust my posture without interrupting her own flow.
It being a public space, fast-paced music was blaring from the speakers that our neighbouring group of aerobic exercisers were using, chatty passersby were frequent, and there was always a sense of the hundreds of other activities and conversations that people were engaged in up and down the hilly park.
And yet, a feeling of tranquillity descended on me almost as soon as I fell into acceptable sync with the sex/septuagenarians; even as I needed to reorient every time they faced a new direction, I still managed to collect a few moments of this precious feeling…
…and for that, here’s to more Tai Chi kinds of mornings.