Laughing at the Impossible
interviewed by Instructor Lis
many of our well-travelled students, Geraldine had seen Tai Chi being
practised in Asia before she came to classes.
Unlike many of our students, she had no idea that what these serene
people were doing was a structured series of movements.
“I thought they were just doing their own thing – swaying in the
breeze. When I went to my first class, I was really surprised to find
we actually had to learn it.”
Geraldine’s first lessons were with a group through the gym at the
Southern Cross Club. She saw an advertisement and thought she’d try it,
but the classes came to an end after a while.
Always an active person, Geraldine enjoyed skiing until she had a bad
fall and tore ligaments in her knee.
“I’m rather clumsy and after I hurt my knee, I fell and broke my arm.
Then, because I couldn’t use one arm, I developed over-use syndrome in
the other from typing one handed. I’m in the Public Service.
So I had a bung knee and two sore arms. I decided these injuries were
caused through lack of balance and I needed to improve that. However, I
was a bit scared of skiing again.
I knew Tai Chi was the right sort of exercise for my condition, so in
2003, I signed up at Woden with the Academy.”
Geraldine joined with a group of friends. After the first term, they’d
all dropped out except for her.
was really hard. Tai Chi is impossible!"
The obvious question is: Why continue?
“I liked it and I found it mildly amusing that I couldn’t do it. I’d
get frustrated and stamp my foot, but I’d laugh. I know I’m not good at
co-ordination and I’m hopeless with visual
Forget mirror image! I can’t look and follow; I need verbal directions.
Brett doesn’t say much, so it was a challenge. I did every level three
times.” Geraldine laughs and adds, “I still can’t do it.
I don’t practise and I only get to one class per week now. Early on, at
the height of my unco-ordinated
frustration, I managed three classes per week and that helped.”
injuries have healed and when she thought about it, Geraldine realised
she hasn’t fallen since she started Tai Chi. “It must have made a
difference. I feel really good.”
has learned other things from Tai Chi, things she can apply in daily
“I’d always learned easily but now I know not everything is like that.
Some things take time. I’ve learned patience. As adults, we expect to
be able to grasp things quickly and for others to do so, too, but
mostly, people don’t.
I’ve learned persistence, to keep at it.
Mentally, I’m more measured and considered.”
are important lessons. Tai Chi is an art. As in other arts such as
music or painting, there is no point of perfection for the
practitioner. Stages are reached, but the goal keeps moving and
changing as the artist develops skill and understanding. The quest is a
personal one and can’t be judged against another’s progress, except in
never feel pressured to get things right in class. That’s what I like
about it. Brett and Fontane know I’m the one who’ll burst out laughing
when I lose the plot. Any pressure comes purely from within ourselves.”
(This is an actual interview, but the name
has been changed for reasons of privacy.)