Underneath my yellow skin

Learning to Tolerate Frustration

I hate weeding. I hate it so much. If I had a top ten list of things I hate to do, well, it wouldn’t be on it, but it would be close. I especially hate it when it’s sunny and dank out as it is today. I sit there, sweating, resenting the hell out of the glowing orb in the sky. Let me be clear. Even though I’m a cold weather kind of gal, I like te sun shining in the sky. However, not when it’s dank. I fucking hate humidity because I sweat like a pig. When I used to read ‘health articles’ , one of the general tips was that you should workout until you break a heavy sweat. I break in a heavy sweat just by stepping out into the sun, so it’s not a good barometer for me.

Anyway, I was weeding today and just thinking nasty thoughts towards the weeds I was pulling out of the backyard. It seems so pointless in that even if you get the roots, there will always be more weeds to take their place. I will say, however, that I like breaking down boxes with a box cutter. There’s something immensely satisfying about destroying boxes to their basics. I also will say that I like manual labor as it makes me Zen in a way. I don’t think about anything as I’m working with my hands, which is a relief for me. My brain is constantly humming, and the more I try not to think about things, the more my thoughts race around in my brain. To be able to have it blessedly free of thoughts is a miracle, but is it worth doing the manual labor? Box-breaking, yes. Weeding, no.

I’m working on being more flexible in general, but it’s difficult. I find comfort in my routines, so anything that fucks with that garners a massive side eye from me. However, doing a few hours of housework every day has been good in that besides giving me time away from my thoughts, it also makes me feel productive in a way that I don’t with doing mental work. Clearing out the garage and seeing the actual progress is satisfying in a way that writing two-thousand words isn’t.

As many of you know, I don’t cook. Many years ago, I did bake, though, and there was something so soothing about handling the dough. It’s tactile, and it feels wonderful to have it ooze through my fingers. Then, placing the lump of dough (or lumps) in the oven and waiting for it to form into something delicious and edible was great, too. The smell wafting from the oven would tantalize me until I pulled it out, all brown, smelling earthy, yeasty, and sweet, and ready to be shoved down my gullet.

I did do a little bit of cooking. I made a seven-layer dip, a potato corn chowder with a whole tub of sour cream that was fucking amazing, and kung pao chicken. They were all tasty, especially the chowder, but it was so time-consuming. It made me feel good, though, to have this huge pot of chowder ready to be eaten, and what’s better on ┬áblustery Minnesota winter day than a steaming bowl of corn chowder?

It’s the same with cleaning. You put in the work for a discrete amount of time, and then you see the results. When I write, yes, I can look at the final post or pages of fiction or whatever, but it’s still not the same. It’s not as tangible as baking something or cleaning out a space. It’s hard to explain the difference, but I think if you write, you can understand my frustration. I’m sitting at my computer, my fingers flying over my keyboard, and I’m spewing out all this shit into the ether. I don’t know where it’s going to land or if anyone is going to read my words, and while there’s some satisfaction in turning a pretty phrase, I’m finding myself more and more dissatisfied with my writing these days. I touched on it in a previous post in that I’m wondering if being less depressed has stifled my creativity somewhat. In my depressed days, some of my best writing stemmed from the nights I couldn’t sleep. I used to get four hours of sleep a night, and I spent a lot of my nights writing when I couldn’t sleep. Now, I know theoretically that I can write at any time, but there’s a tiny part of my mind that is worried I lost some of my juice when I started getting more sleep.

I’m not good with change, and I’m noticing it to be very problematic in taiji these days. Why? Because my teacher’s teacher is changing so much about the Solo Form right now. It’s difficult because I’ve doing the Solo Form in a certain way, and now, I feel as if there is quicksand slipping and sliding under my feet. I’ve been teaching myself the Left Side of the Solo Form, and I’m almost done with the third (and last) section, but I’m wondering if it’s even worth it because everything is different. Not only has he changed several of the postures, he’s now changing the sequence.

For someone like me, all these changes are very difficult to take for many reasons. One, as I said, I lean heavily on my routines. I like doing certain things at certain times, for example, and I do them in the same order every day. I’ve been trying to mix up my taiji routine every day so it won’t get stale, but I tend to fall back into doing the same things in the same order. I understand that taiji is a living art, and I know it can be stultifying to keep everything exactly the same, but I feel like the changes are coming too fast and too furious. Just as I master a change, another one comes right on its heels. There’s a posture called My Fair Ladies, er, Fair Ladies Weaving at Their Shuttle, and the way it looks now does not resemble the posture I learned hardly at all. First, the arms were changed. Then, the feet. Now, it’s in a different place in the third section. It’s too much for my poor brain to comprehend.

I will say the new way is much easier, but there’s a part of my brain that can’t help but be grumpy because I learned it the hard way, damn it! I forced my feet into a weird contortion that took many years to get, and you kids don’t know how lucky you are not to have to do that! I know the big reason my teacher’s teacher has changed the sequence is so that new people can master the Solo Form much more quickly. He’s cut out a lot of the repetition, and I can know intellectually that it’s a good thing. I can’t help feeling, however, that I’ve wasted my time learning the old form now that the new one will be the official Solo Form.

In addition, it cuts out one of my favorite kicks, which makes me really sad. I still practice it, but I have a mournful feeling when I do it. I’m also pretty sure my absolute favorite posture is gone as well, but I have my teacher’s permission to put it in the second section as an alternative to another similar posture.

I’m overwhelmed. It’s too much, and I’m not handling it very well. I’m blessed with a good memory, so I’m adapting to the changes fairly effortlessly, though I will say I have to concentrate extra hard in the third section because all the fat has been trimmed. Instead of easing into the new stuff, we jump right in. The repeat Roll Back, Press, Push, Single Whip (they always follow each other) in the beginning is gone, and it’s jarring to jump right into Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane. One of them is cut as well, which makes me unhappy because I love this posture. Then, we jump right into My Fair Ladies, and it feels like there’s no time to take a break.

I know it sounds as if I’m completely trashing on the changes, but I’m not. I think several of the posture changes are improvement, and the new Solo Form is very streamlined. However, I have some concerns about it, and I’m not dealing with all the changes very well. I’m also worried that he will change the Sword Form, and that will be even worse for me. I’m not a big fan of the Solo Form, and making it more concise isn’t a bad thing in general. However, I love the Sword Form–love, love, love it–and I’ll be really upset if it changes too much.

On the plus side, my teacher and I are going to get back to the Sabre Form soon. Once I’m done learning it (I have about a fourth left or a third left), she’s going to start teaching me Double Sabre drills. She showed them to me recently, and I’m super-hyped about being a human Cuisinart!



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