Sunday, December 20, 2009

The fingertip of the middle finger of the right hand

I woke to the sound of birds and music. It took me a few seconds to remember where I was. The sound was gentle, lulling, and it drew me from my bed like the magical singing of sirens. I was in China - somewhere exotic, somewhere I'd dreamt about for so long. I drew back the curtains and looked into past the trees into the park and saw people moving as if in a dream.

Tai Chi, of course - one of Hodmandod Senior's favourite pass-times. Ah, if only he could see this, I thought, and wished, not for the first time, that he were here alongside me. So often he has told me that moving slowly is a difficult art-form - much more difficult that the faster movements I tend to favour in the gym. I watched for some time - admiring the bright red silk outfit of one woman, and the superb balance of the elderly man in front. There is a strength in slowness, I know, and a sort of beauty.

Clearly Tai Chi is much favoured in China. This was a sight I was to see again and again and not just in Chongqing. Mostly the people doing it seemed middle-aged or sometimes elderly, and often the students were women.

Apart from various weapons fans seemed to be a favoured accessory,

as demonstrated by the Tai Chi 'master' (the white silk seemingly signifying prowess).

At first I hesitated to take a photo, but soon it became obvious nobody minded in the least. I suppose choosing (or having) to practise in a public park is bound to attract attention. The idea, perhaps, is to focus on every tiny movement and blot out the rest of the world, to gain balance and inner serenity - and then some irritating woman with a camera can be disregarded.

A bird sings. A leaf falls from a branch. Above us the sky clears itself of cloud and the fingertip of the middle finger of your right hand moves a hair's breadth to the left.