A memory of my undergraduate days: I was wrestling with indecisiveness, both academic and personal, and consulted a professor who sometimes acted as a sounding board for me. What should I do? Here was one option, here another, no way to decide how best to proceed. I felt mired in uncertainties.
She listened compassionately to my dithering and then replied by telling me about a Buddhist saying: “When leaning left, lean left. When leaning right, lean right. When wobbling, wobble.”
I felt relieved. All my life, I had been criticized for my indecisiveness; here was a person who allowed me to accept it as another way of being. There was also the implication that I would not be wobbly forever. Eventually I would bear enough in one direction to proceed. Meanwhile, I was granted a kind of grace–a moment of compassion for my wobbly state of being–and all I need do was to wobble mindfully.
[Admission: I have never been able to confirm that this actually is a Buddhist saying, or for that matter a Taoist or Confucian saying, and I think perhaps she invented it.]
I recovered the memory above while trying a move in my rather new practice of tai chi.
One may infer that I am less than steady on my feet, particularly when required to stand on one foot, as necessary for “crane” stance in the tai chi form I am learning. So, I try to be mindful of breathing while attempting crane. And I wobble, but I try to wobble slowly and mindfully.
I am, however, fairly good at leaning. Standing on both feet while placing my body’s weight on one leg comes naturally to me, whereas the groundedness of the horse stance takes more concentration.
“When leaning, lean.” I can do that.
Once again, as per my last post, establishing that middle way–though it is not easy, and it is not hard–doesn’t come naturally, especially when I feel spread a bit thin in other areas of my daily life.
Therefore: “When wobbling, wobble.”
From KHHuber’s blog, here’s a lovely photo of (egret? crane? white heron?) steadily elegant on one leg:
I’ve been thinking a lot about your last post, having nothing clever to contribute, the only thing I can say is that I recognize your worries & considerations –
What I want to say is: write – write – write!
Thanks for your encouragement! I understand creativity probably has a continuum, as most things do. Perhaps my creativity is working on a different puzzle these days: finding that balance!
Another wonderful post, Ann, on a subject that I visit most moments or at least it seems that way but now I have “when wobbling, wobble.” Thank you and your mentor for that as well as your “all I need do was to wobble mindfully.” So glad you enjoyed the image of the snowy egret on Waverly Pond; I took it on a humid morning as the speckles attest. If I continue to progress with my yoga, I may try tai chi again. I did much more than wobble when attempting the crane pose.
Thank you so much for the use of the snowy egret photo, Karen. As winter begins to descend upon us up here, the warmth that photo exudes–as well as the grace–seems welcome.
Weird: when reading this I had the insightful takeaway: “When writing, lean.” Yet I went back and could find it nowhere in the post. I like it, though.
Interesting, Kathryn, where your mind went. Like my professor perhaps did, you can invent a new “ancient aphorism”: When writing, lean. 🙂
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