Last night we watched the family movie, “The Last Airbender.” It is a fantastic tale of a mystic world where people have powers of bending earth, bending water, bending fire, or bending air. Nations form around the four powers. A young boy, perhaps 9 or 10 years old, is the fulfillment of a prophecy. I missed the first part – but I think he was supposed to bring all four nations together in peace. Of course, first they had to have these epic battles where they are throwing fire at one another, or moving dirt, forming towers out of water, or blasting people backward in huge sprays of air. It was impressive for my little guys.
There were some beautiful scenes where people were practicing their art or their power. It was much like watching someone practice Tai-Chi. The postures and moves are very graceful. There seems to be a poetry to it, a specific rhythm, because two people practicing side by side are in unison with their movements. We weren’t even finished watching the movie before both my 6-year old and my 3-year old were performing waving postures in front of the TV in a mesmerizing dance of flailing body parts. There was not much grace to it – they were much too fast, but their hearts were in it.
This morning I looked online for a website that would show us some Tai-Chi positions and give us pictures of each part of the position, so we could try to learn some graceful moves. My boys are so rambunctious; I thought it might also give them a way to be in motion without being spastic, loud, and flying through the house. Voila – it totally worked. What I found were the first 18 positions in a practice called Shibashi.
Before our big Sunday breakfast of Waffles, while Scott was making breakfast, Ben and I spent about 20 minutes attempting moves like Painting a Rainbow, Separating the Clouds, Rowing a Boat in the Middle of a Lake, Carry Ball in Front of the Shoulders, Gazing at the Moon, Scooping the Sea and Looking at the Horizon. All the moves have such descriptive names – you can easily imagine what you will be doing. We did a lot of improvising even though there were pictures provided. I think Ben and I being artists, we like to be even more exuberant than perhaps a perfectly poised Tai-Chi master.
My two favorite positions were Flying Dove spreads its Wings, and Flying Wild Goose. Imagine our delight as we slowly, gracefully, flapped our giant Wild Goose wings and soared over hills and valleys spotted with wildflowers.
The last position was Balancing the Chi to Close and we got to have some very special moments of breathing deeply and being still and talking calmly about how our truest strength lies in our ability to control ourselves. Strength isn’t shown in how we are able to control others by raising our voices or trying to make a little brother conform to our will… Strength is shown in our ability to stay calm in the midst of a trying situation – like when Little Brother is playing with one of our special toys and all we want to do is scream at him. To stay calm and come talk to mom and dad is the true show of strength.
What a great morning. Ben even dressed in loose fitting sweats to do our Meditation/Practice. It is cool how quickly he takes hold of a character to learn all he can about a new concept.
Photo: Ben posing on a Kitchen Chair Gazing at the Moon