It was a rather perfunctory practice this morning. It’s not that I didn’t put any effort into it — not that — but it just felt like I wasn’t any better off at the end of the practice than I was at the start. It was a long school day yesterday, followed by a late evening at Drum and Dance in Amherst, ma, followed by a visit to a local diner with friends. A lovely evening, but makes for an awkward morning.
Still, even on mornings when you were up at 2am the night before (in the second watch of the night, as the Romans would say), there’s still tai chi to do. Even when you’re tired, there’s the work to be done.
I read a quotation by Chuck Close the painter recently, in which he said, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us have to get up and go to work.” I don’t know the context, but this is kind of how I feel all the time. Inspiration is for amateurs. Sure, it’s nice to be inspired now and again, but work — real work — is getting stuff done and liking it... You may not get paid for work, you may make a bajillion dollars for it, but it’s still work.
I’m listening to, in small bursts, this recording of the second plenary session from Between The Worlds, which seems like it’s an alternative spiritual gathering in Delaware. They’re talking about operative magic — the magic you use to get a job, or find a house, or stay in a career, or suchlike things. Among the panelists are John Michael Greer of the Archdruid Report and Jason Miller of Strategic Sorcery, some of my teachers. And both of them say, in slightly different words, the same thing — if you want to manifest results, you have to the work in the world you live in. Not in your imagination. Not in the astral. Not in your daydreams. In this world. Ultimately, you can’t have anything you want, without working for it in this realm of the world. Sitting on the couch thinking about your tai chi practice won’t make you a better martial arts practitioner. Neither will thinking about your work… if you don’t put it into practice, it doesn’t happen.
Last night I had the privilege of standing around to chat with a crew of artists and practitioners, and we were showing off our work in various ways. It was a pleasure to be in a community of maker and creators and doers, and know that what we had in common was making stuff and doing stuff. It matters. What are you going to make today? What are you getting done?
I’ve done my tai chi today. I can’t say it was well done, or beautiful, or life-transforming, or deeply insightful. Sometimes it’s not like that. But I can say it’s done. What have you done?