Winter break was good, but it was also the first time I felt divided in who I am and where home is. It’s a jump from one matrix to another. At the Center, I’m part of a community that trains together and shares responsibilities. It has positives but sometimes I want to be independent of it. The schedule is full and tiring, but we accomplish so much. I love the mountain view, fresh air, clean water, and quiet. Sometimes it does feel too far away from everything.
When I return to Massachusetts, my parents can’t help but go into “parent-mode” about some matters. It’s love and understandable and many parents will continue to do so as long as they’re alive, but sometimes I just want to be treated as an adult. I do appreciate them letting me relax while I’m there and my mom cooking my favorite dishes. It’s nice to catch up with friends and do things I normally can’t do. I work part time in an office and it’s challenging to go from 60 to almost 0. My body ached and my muscles felt restless. I dealt with dust allergies and my skin and throat felt really dry from the heaters. It was below freezing and I felt like an outdoor dog stuck inside. My training suffered as I wasn’t 100% and it’s a different training elsewhere. I felt guilty for not finishing as much work as I could have and knowing that I’d have a long “To Do” waiting for me once I returned. The other side of me argued that I needed rest for the upcoming long semester and it felt so good to relax.
Off the mountain there are a lot more noises. People talk faster and I found myself doing the same, but I want to avoid it and keep my pace and inner peace. I dislike going to the city even more than before. Maybe I’m slowly turning into a hermit. I still like exploring new places but I’m also very happy to stay in, cook a nice meal, and read or watch a film. I took walks in the woods and to the pond to clear my head and get fresh air. One thing I am certain of is the need to be close to nature once I leave the Center. I feel more calm and alive.
Semester 4 has begun and there is so much to do that I haven’t worked out all my goals and schedule yet. I do know that I have at least this:
- Small Circulation
- Taijiquan: deeper feeling, make the Jing less bad
- Peng Lu Ji An, Fighting Set
- White Crane Qigong: continue soft, begin hard
- Polish all Shaolin Sequences learned with a focus on sword and short rods
Some of the goals were assigned and even though I don’t feel ready, we only have 3 ½ semesters to learn and polish as much as we can. That list doesn’t include all the non-training goals like reading, writing, and several upcoming media projects. Time goes slowly by the day, quickly by the week.
My aunt asked if I could feel Qi when I trained. Starting late last semester when I thought my meditation couldn’t get any worse and my conditioning plateaued at a pathetic level, I actually began to feel it in my practice. I don’t know if anyone else does this, but sometimes when it feels strong, I face my palms together and move them closer and further away to feel the magnetic-like pull. One night, I did a few strikes and put my palm a few inches away from Jon’s face so he could feel it (and he did :)). It’s nothing like the movies (at least not yet), but I’m glad I’m becoming more aware of it. Some progress is being made.
I also want to polish a few recipes after inspiration from a recent visitor. He stressed the importance of fresh ingredients and simplicity – fewer ingredients that don’t compete with each other.
- Spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams)
- Spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil) with olives (we named it “the Paolo” and it will be glorious when we use better olives)
- Vegetarian tomato sauce
- Eggplant parmigiana
Jon’s got a pretty good bolognese sauce and spaghetti alla carbonara down, but I’m leaning towards eating less meat and going pescetarian again once I leave the Center.