February 25th, 2007


Sensible People

It's 1am out here and we're in the midst of a severe winter storm. I haven't been outside all day except to go to my tai chi class at 11am. Class ended at 2pm and I chipped a nice layer of ice off of my truck in order to see. The roads were in fair condition but little pellets of ice were falling from the sky. Pearl and I were going to hang out, but neither of us wanted to face this weather. Just because we know how to drive in snow doesn't mean we SHOULD drive in snow!

So what would any sensible person do at 1am, after being indoors for the past 10 hours? Why, go outside and survey the damage of course!

I walked out the back door and saw that one of my neighbor's car had gotten stuck pulling into our alley parking pad. The rear end was just at the curb. I walked around our building - the snow drifts ranged anywhere from about 3 inches to a foot. My truck was buried under about 5 inches of snow, so I got out my brush and shoveled off most of it. This way there won't be a foot of snow on it when I have to go to work on Monday.

Now, what would a sensible person do if they were presented with mounds of almost completely untouched, fluffy white, slightly wet snow?

Probably just go back indoors.

I made snow angels.

If Lemur was with me, we would have made fallen snow angels, in which we would have thrown our bodies onto the snow drifts, arms outstretched, limbs all akimbo, doing our best to overcome the natural tendency to protect our chests as we fall. During the winter at SNC, you could find out prints scattered throughout the campus.

Tonight, though, there was just me. And in the quiet of the falling snow I spread my legs and arms out in perfect arcs.
Dancing Gir

Tai Chi - not JUST for kicking the asses of underwater mimes

A few classes ago, Sifu Ray taught us about Twist Steps and Favorable Steps. These occur many times through out the form and are present to help give the most power and strength to the posture.

A Twist Step, he told us, is when the opposite hand and foot are forward and the navel is pointed straight ahead, such as in brush knee or parry and punch. A Favorable Step is when the same hand and foot are forward and the navel is pointed to the corner. This is seen in Single whip and Diagonal flying. "Once you remember this," he said, "you can be great at any sport. Just think of which hand and foot are forward."

So today I decided to inspect the damage of the snow (which is still falling on and off) and dig out my truck so I might get to work on Monday. The snow around my car was easily a foot deep, and I'm glad that I brushed most of it off last night. The result was that my windows were only covered in about five inches, while the drifts were piled up to the bottom of my truck. I got out a shovel and began to work.

I should note here, for those who don't know, that I grew up in a place where it NEVER snowed. Well, it did snow once, but it was gone in a day. I shoveled snow only a few times previously when I was at SNC. My junior year I lived in a house and we shared our driveway with the house next door. The driveway was positioned just right so that the snow would drift in two to three foot hills - mostly behind my car. I participated in some guerilla type snow shoveling back then, piling most of the snow onto the cars of our neighbors who had piled the snow directly behind ours. After a few days of this, I just said "screw it" and depended on my 10 year old ford explorer's 4 wheel drive to get me out and onto the street. Every time that I would come inside from a great deal of shoveling, my arms would ache, blisters would have covered my hands, and I would swear that the only way I'd live in the midwest for a long period of time was to marry a man with amazing upper arm strength or invest in a snow blower.

MOVING ON - I got out to my truck and began to shovel. As I did, I thought about the Twist and Favorable steps. When I dug into the snow with my shovel, my leading hand and foot where the same. So I pointed my navel to the opposite corner and flung the snow. I found that when I did it this way the work was much easier.

I also shifted my feet into a bow stance. My back foot was at about a 45 degree angle, giving me the perfect amount of push as I heaved the snow up onto the snowbank of the boulevard. I would bend with my knees and use my whole body as I would push up and over the snow.

As a result of apply my tai chi techniques to the act of plowing snow, I feel pretty darn good. I'm no where near the same level of sore and tired as I was 5 years ago, trying to dig my way out of a 20 foot long driveway. I did build up a sweat but my arms are just mildly tired and I have no blisters on my hands. I managed to incorporate what I learned about the form to some every day activities and DAMN do I feel good about doing that.

Plus - I am SOOOOOOOO counting what I just did as exercise. According to this site that my mom just sent me, I burned 445.5 calories doing my 45 minutes of shoveling.