There are times when the little devil on my shoulder tries to persuade me to be lazy and to put off doing the necessary things. "It's OK to skip practice today. What's one day? It won't matter."
I depend on routines to help me through these times. I have set up my home and my schedule to do certain things at certain times: "It's morning. I'm out of bed. I have shaved, showered, and brushed my teeth. What's next? It's time for tai chi."
That usually works pretty well for me. However, there are some days where I get out of my routine. Recently, I had to leave early for work. I had several options to get my tai chi done.
First: Get up early. Not a good choice. I wake up earlier than I want to far too often as it is. I am not going to deliberately wake up any earlier that I need to.
Second: Omit taking a shower in the morning. Not a good choice. My coworkers may not be happy with me.
Third: Omit my morning tai chi and do it later. Not a great choice, but better than the others. I planned to do my tai chi that evening when I got home from work.
Unfortunately it takes more than good intentions to achieve good results. I sat down for a nice dinner with my wife. Then it was time to check my email. I thought to myself, " I have plenty of time. I'll do it later." Then it was time to check Facebook. I thought to myself, " I know that this isn't a good use of my time, but I still have plenty of time. I'll do it later."
One thing led to another and I wasted a couple of hours of my time and had not accomplished the only important item on my schedule. I finally found the willpower to push myself away from the computer and to do what I had been looking forward to doing all day.
I did the warmup exercises and I could feel my joints and muscles creaking in protest. I had been sitting too long. Then I started my forms and all of a sudden a wonderful feeling come over me as my mind and body responded to doing the forms. I was so happy to be moving and breathing. The rhythm of the steps, the shifting of the weight, the breath following the opening and closing movements of the forms.
Was I perfect in my forms? Of course not. I have never been perfect. I teetered and leaned into some of my kicks. I was off balance a couple of times. But it didn't matter. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and it felt great.
I came very close to yielding to the little devil on my shoulder that was trying to get me to skip my practice. If I would have given in, I would have missed the great experience that I did have.
Stories like this usually have a moral. For this story, it's pretty simple. Use your routines to help you remain on task. When the routines fail, you are left with willpower to accomplish your goals. Willpower is not reliable, but sometimes it's all you have. Do the best you can and realize that life is not perfect. Focus on what is important and do the best you can.
© 2013 Eric Borreson