I have spent much of the last two weeks in China, in my head – remembering, visualizing, hearing, smelling, tasting once again that wonderful experience I had in person – Tai Chi in Chenjiago (Chen Village) and Wudanshan (Wudang Mountains). Now well into the book I am writing about my story, I easily went back to the multi-faceted experience that enhanced my life and my Tai Chi. A dream come true, a trip that I thought would be physically impossible for me to ever take. And there I was.
This week I told a story to my Tai Chi students. It was in response to a student’s question, “How long until I’m not a beginner any longer?”
In Chenjiago, Chen Village, walking on a gravel road leading to History Museum of Tai Chi, there is a big rock with Chinese writing, “Tai Chi’s Holy Place. We near the entrance and encounter a statue of Chen WangTing, the founder of Chen Tai Chi in the 1600’s. As we walk further along a stone walkway, we encounter three gigantic stone gates. The outermost gate signifies the earliest proficiency of Tai Chi, the second for those who have advanced further and the third, for those who are even more advanced. Chen WangTing told his students he was personally outside the first gate. My fellow Tai Chi travelers and I stopped, looked at each other in amazement. We knew that put us way, way, way, way outside the first gate!
This is a great lesson for us, always having the mind of a beginner, eager to learn, eager to try, eager to be open to new lessons. We do not arrive nor master. We are here to be on the journey.