Apart from several years of tai chi – a statement that could easily be taken the wrong way if you have limited knowledge of dynamic, combative taijiquan – I have never been enamoured with mind, body and soul quackery. That said, this week, coming back from my previous week-long hiatus, I’ve been busy stretching out my mind, working out my ageing body, rinsing out book one from the soul… shedding my snakeskin.
This very week I have committed to improving my Mandarin language skills. Like millions of other hopefuls, I’ve attempted this language a few times over and each time never given it the necessary focus. But I’ve changed: courtesy of a Mandarin podcast that I’ve been listening to, somewhat inattentively, while driving the car or working out in my garage gym.
My ears pricked up when the voice said I only need 800 words to really grasp an adequate, conversational Chinese. That sounded ‘do-able’ by the end of this year once I’d broken it down to a daily rate of 6 characters. It’s always good to keep the brain zesty and, happily, progress is indeed being made so far… “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Though I’ve gone the so-called wrong side of 40, I still regularly work out – always have done, arguably been an ‘over trainer’. Some people – gracious strangers, not just kind friends – say I look 35, to which I naturally laugh aloud. That said, I do in fact feel 25.
For me, that vibrant feeling has been perennial: a weird and wonderful age-is-just-a-number thing which was maybe hard wired in me – but definitely tapped into, teased out, cultivated, savoured. So much so that this week I’ve been seriously considering local rugby teams to join. Ha! At my age?
I played several sports to high levels until the late teens but I most loved rugby. So many seasons… whoosh. Somehow all those times got lost to the back of beyond, or maybe I’d gotten whacked on the head too many times and never came back round (until now)? Either way, I guess those embers still burn.
Something that I’ve known all along is good for my soul, and really savoured of late, is writing. While I rinse from my marrow ‘book one’ (debut novel, “Monkey Steals Plum”), I am simultaneously swilling around my skull the drafting of ‘book two’ in The Feng Trilogy (“Leopard Descends Tree”).
The hiatus between books has also been used for some other facets of writing: polishing some short stories for upcoming audio projects; experimenting with micro-fiction; personal writings; and more closely planning future books of fiction and non-fiction.
I don’t buy into the BS of the highly commercialised industry that pumps out mind, body, and soul quackery. Yet I acknowledge that, for me at least, all three elements intertwine and reinforce one another. For each, I might say, sine qua non. In my own ways, I work each and every week on the three realms-as-one.