It has taken me 50 years, but I’m starting to learn how I operate and how certain elements of my personality trigger actions that resultin my life taking unexpected turns and twists. Curiosity. It rules me. It is like some sexy paramour slinking down dark alleys, looking over a shoulder and calling out “Yoo-hoo” in a breathless voice as it crooks a finger for me to follow. Intrigued, I can’t resist and I stumble down one road after another until I look up suddenly and think, ‘Where the hell am I and how did I get here.”
A few years ago, I was the director of a remarkably successful dance studio. I was living a traditional life all organized and secure and I had a future intact. Things were pretty good and a lot of people would have loved to change places with me. I now live in rural Georgia with peacocks and a donkey. I teach yoga and write. My future is uncertain and I couldn’t be more frustrated with how all these choices have impacted my personal life in not so ideal ways. Um… bet few people want to change places with me now. Need I say more?
The fact that I’m a slave to curiosity and that it motivates action (thus impacting my life), became very clear to me yesterday over a very minor event. A yoga student asked me if I was ever going to add Tai chi to the schedule. I’ve had this request several times, and I always answer, “No, but only because I don’t know a darn thing about it. If a teacher ever comes along, I’ll certainly consider it.”
But hearing that question again had me thinking . . . It’s like when we had our first summer camp for preschoolers at FLEX and a parent said, “This is so great, I wish you could do it year round. You should open a preschool. I’d signup. . “ A little bell went off in my brain, and damn if a year later I hadn’t jumped through red-tape hoops and written a business plan in my class at college and voila, opened the FLEX preschool of the arts. It just sort of happened because I was curious about the idea . . .
Anyway, an hour later, a teacher called and left a message on the phone that asked if I’d ever be interested in adding tai chi to the yoga schedule because she would be interested in teaching it. Hummm….. Interesting timing. I decided to call back and set up a future interview to discuss the possibilities.
Meanwhile, my mind started circling the idea. I really have no clue what the hell Tai chi is, so how do I know I want it in my school? And how will I know if this teacher is any good, considering I have no basis for judgment? Personally, I don’t want to offer any classes that aren’t the highest quality in a school I am directing. It’s not that I’m a control freak, but I have always believed building a reputation for quality instruction is far more important than letting just anyone teach who can attract a few students, even if it does fill empty space– I understand some people add classes to their program to chase a much needed buck, but for me being a responsible director of a school requires you keep your eye on the bigger picture – setting up a persona for the school and building customer trust in your product. Anyway, this attitude of putting quality at the helm of all decisions certainly worked to make the former FLEX the most successful dance studio I’ve ever come across. Why change my approach since I know it works in the long term (and creates a school I can be proud of)?
So, I decided some research on the subject of Tai Chi was in order. I started browsing the Internet. Denver asked me what I was doing. When I told her I was looking up training forTai chi and certification etc. she rolled her eyes and said, “I am NOT going to become a certified Tai –chi instructor.”
“Who asked you?” I said.
“Well, why are you looking all that up? Don’t tell me you’re thinking of becoming Tai chi certified? Good God, Mom.”
“Not necessarily. But I can’t very well interview a perspective teacher about a subject if I have no clue what questions to ask or what is involved. I need to understand certification levels and such to be impressed with any she might have.”
“Well, that makes sense.” Then she mumbled under her breath,“Actually, you are really smart when it comes to running a school”.
Well, nice to know I’m good for something, but as far as I’m concerned, its just common sense to know what you are talking about if you are gearing up for a discussion.
Anyway, I spent a few hours reading about Tai Chi on the internet, which for the record, sounds like a perfect combination of yoga philosophy and dance movement – it’s a martial arts form that is actually a moving meditation – totally focused on the spiritual, so it would blend perfectly with a yoga & meditation program.
I studied all the certifications – which are very minimal and undefined actually, unlike Yoga. Probably because there is no universal standard as yet – like dance. Anyone can hang a dance shingle and teach dance and it doesn’t matter if you are qualified or not, sad to say. Makes it hard for trusting clients to find quality training and that is what is wrong with dance education in America (fodder for another, passionate blog someday – don’t get me started).
The next thing I knew, I was thinking, “I could do this myself if I wanted too . . ..” I ordered 6 books from Amazon on Tai Chi history and philosophy just so I would have a clear understanding of the origins and depth of the art form. Then, I decided to order a 6-hour instructional program designed as a base for teacher’s training. I was thinking, Hey, it is so dance-like the movement part and technique will be a piece of cake and considering my yoga and meditation training, the core of the work will be easy to master.
And the next thing you know, I was checking out classes and programs in Atlanta, pulling up schedules and trying to figure out when and howI might go experience some strong Tai Chi classes to set a foundation for future learning.
And . . . well, you are getting the point. I am now deep in the throws of learning all about Tai chi and will probably be teaching it myself eventually, even though a day ago, I never considered the idea and I’ve never thad the slightest interest in martial arts. Meanwhile,I will meet with this possible teacher, but you can bet by the time she get shere, I’ll be armed with all kinds of information and I’ll know what to ask and how to access her background and credentials (if she has any) to determine if she is a good fit for the school. And she will have to be better at this subject than I might be if I put my mind to it before she can gain a position in this school.
kind of accidental curiosity is how I fell into yoga (and I’ll be forever grateful that I did) and how I seem to be swaying towards massage therapy (going to check out a school in Atlanta that is famed for it’s holistic health programs and massage training this Friday.) Life just keeps unfolding for me,taking me new directions. Dance is (was) my first love, but age has forced me to embrace and/or evolve to consider other movement and teaching avenues as well. Sometimes I feel so filled with experiences I might explode, though I must admit I’m grateful that the world remains a place of discovery for me. One thing is certain, my life is never boring. But other times I feel like an erratic jerk who can’t just sit still and be content with a good thing – as if my always stretching the envelop is what makes me fall into places where turmoil and uncertainty resides. If I could only be content with the status quo – be the kind of person who keeps the same job for 30 years and lives in the same house and eats pizza every Friday and only makes love on Wednesday nights and weekends, and knows where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing next year and in five years and ten and has my retirement all planned out and . . .. Well . . . I imagine that kind of certainty has many beautiful benefits. Sounds good some days.
But curiosity and me are having an affair, and it seems to be gaining momentum lately, rather than falling into more comfortable states of familiarity. What ya gonna do with a wicked lover like that?
But no more writing about this today, I’m off to teach yoga and to check the post office for books on Anias Nin (a writer known for her erotic stories, but actually one of the greatest journal writers of all time, and since I’m teaching journaling, I’m studying her with fascination and reading all her works again) Makes me accept and understand the dichotomy of my own writing interests (romance and literary are quite a clash, don’t ya know) too. Perhaps a few of my Tai Chi books will start showing up too today.
The table by my bed is trembling under the weight of books I plan to read ASAP– for all my life does seem to constantly revolve and change over time, that remains the same.