the gong of it all

June 5th, 2012 by Jan

Making a commitment is a hard thing to do. Really.

Good intentions are sent up like a flying flag at the excitement of actually doing the work and learning to speak Spanish, or practice qigong, perhaps cook great meal, or run a 10 km.

Yes! I want to do that! It sounds wonderful – I would be fluent, healthy, strong. I have always really wanted to have that skill or do that thing… what ever “that” is.

But…  reality sets in when we find we might have to make a commitment, a real effort and  to learn something, really learn it well enough to know it… we have to put in the time and effort. The gong!

If you’re like me, you’re busy! I can start the day with huge expectations and good intentions to do this or that… and then I look up again and the day is over! I find I never actually got to the part in the day that needed to be set aside for the lesson or for practice. Change is hard. My day, as flexible as it is — is full. Any time that might be needed for another class, much less more practice time is well… impossible.

This is one reason in the past, I’ve asked students what they were willing to give up in order to study Tai Chi. What time slot in their day would now be their practice time? What did they use to do every Tuesday at 7pm before they committed to coming to class and would they be willing to give it up? Not just this week, but for… 10 years?

How do we learn new stuff when our life routine seems settled? Where is the switch we need to flip to change? How do we become passionate, dedicated and enthused enough to shake up the day, again and again — adding new information, working with that knowledge — making it our own?

There is a huge difference between wanting to sing and learning to sing. Wanting to have a skill and having the skill, wanting a practice and practicing.

I have a daily practice. I’ve cultivated it over the years — but adding something new or different to it is hard. And because I know the value and truth of practice I’ve become more of a dabbler or hacker at most new stuff that I’m interested in. I’m just not sure what I’m willing to give up right now to start something new.

What was the last “new” thing you committed to?

4 thoughts on “the gong of it all

  1. Laura B

    Jan, my latest thing is committing myself to get back on my feet again after breaking my ankle, and getting back on my feet as a healthier, physically stronger Laura. That includes a commitment to an exercise program, rehab, and change of diet. I keep remembering that it took a few years for tai chi to really “take”, but I knew I wanted to do it from the start. Setting a definite schedule for exercise/rehab substitutes for classes twice a week, but the healthier diet is requiring a lot more ongoing planning, and is coming along more slowly, but still happening.

    The main thing I battle is a sense of inertia.

  2. Dorian

    You two are funny! I made a new learning to play the ukulele, which it turns out also involves learning to read music, sing the right notes in key, and loosen up enough to play. Kind of like signing up for taiji – didn’t quite know what I was in for – but the commitment there has been worth it and I think it will be here too!


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