I think long and hard about a lot of things. I have been born with an insatiable need to understand. I have to concede that I am as much a product of the system as anyone else and although I may find a kid racing through zig-zag stepping amusing, I am also guilty of harboring a competitive mentality although I have worked hard to undo much of this social programming in myself.
Life is not a race from the day of your birth to the day of your death.
Modern Western culture is all about the human race, it seems. We are born and from that point we race at break-neck speed to get to the finish line ahead of our peers. Of course, we realise too late that the finish line is literally the finish line.
Traditional Chinese Martial Arts offers an alternative to racing at top speed towards the inevitable day of your death with your eyes closed. Instead, it offers the opportunity to experience and savor each moment of your life (whether pleasant or unpleasant).
We spend literally hours striving for perfection in a single step.
Months rehearsing a single hand gesture.
Decades of perseverance to breathe a single breath.
It is so counter-cultural that most people will never even understand. The roaring crowd, the trumpet fanfares, the gaudily-coloured ribbons of the race drown out all hope of appreciating silent contemplation.
Stillness and movement. Yin and Yang.
But for some, it is essential. It is life.
We are those who crave the silence, the motes of dust dancing in the sunlight in the quiet of the training hall as we move through Lien Bu Chuan.
The sweat trickling down our backs.
The feeling of stone breaking under our fingers.
The surge of power as we tap into inner reserves to strike.
Ebbing and flowing like the tide.
Rising and falling like the sun.
Each exhale a portent of our death. Each inhale a memorial of our birth.
We are those who prefer not to race. We are those who live.
– Written by SiXiong Lester, head of the Chinese Martial Arts and Health Centre Australia