Yesterday I went to an orchid sale at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. It was at the closing of their annual orchid show and all plants (with a few exceptions) were $10 each. We stood in long lines, there was quite a bit of sturm and drang over grabbing plants, and of course, there were crowds of eager orchid lovers to contend with. I worked to stay centered through it all. However, I found myself sneaking in front of the woman ahead of me who was in deep conversation with a friend of hers. I also did not let the woman at the check out know that she undercharged me $10. I probably went a bit crazy buying way too many orchids, but they were so beautiful. There is really only one place in our house which has the proper light for them to grow— in the windows behind our couch in the living room. I thought I might give a couple away.
Before I could place them in the window, however, my Tai Chi class was scheduled so I rushed to class and worked on perfecting my “Brush Knee” also known as “Empty, yet Productive” and my “Playing the Lute” also known as “The Greatly Skilled Seems Clumsy,” including putting my feet in a more perfect bow stance. It felt good to refine my movements and clean up my form. I was concentrating very hard and carefully on this fine-tuning, when an older woman in the class came up to me right in the midst of my practice and asked if I wanted the teacher to do the healing sounds at the end of class. I was shocked she would interrupt someone who was in the midst of doing their Tai Chi. I was shocked she had no sensitivity to my boundaries or limits. I was short in my reply to her and rushed her on her way telling her I didn’t care one way or the other. Then I tried to restart from where I left off, but I was all discombobulated and angered by her intrusion.
I brought beauty into the house yesterday— the orchids and my Tai Chi form which I am continually working on perfecting. One came from the tension and chaos at the Chicago Botanic Gardens where other lovers of beauty were vying for the best plants. The other came from working to rise above my anger at the encroachment of my concentration and space by another seeker of peace.
Sometimes I forget how complicated lessons really are. Sometimes I forget how even what appears to be the greatly skilled is awfully clumsy.