Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip #416
A Tai Chi Life
Tai Chi is about change. Yin changes to yang and yang changes to yin in a never ending cycle. We can’t stop it where or when we want. We only need to understand the direction of the forces as they move from in to out, up to down, light to dark, happy to sad, life to death, etc. There is a good reason I’m musing about this at this time. I just went for a walk across Happy Valley and it is is the process of big changes.
I moved to Port Townsend, WA from Tucson AZ in 1981. These two places couldn’’t be more different. Tucson is hot and dry (yang), while Port Townsend is cool and moist (yin), being surrounded by water. It is the northwestern most point in the continental U.S. A great place to live.
Besides teaching Tai Chi, restoring the house, planting gardens, building the Tai Chi Studio, integrating into the community, our life was full. We love it. Our house sits at the northeast corner and just above, a cozy, little valley, named Happy Valley. It was the largest open space, with the best soil, left in the city limits. Scottish Highland cattle roamed through one of the fields, closet to our house. We grew to love these huge, gentle creatures. One of the first things I did upon moving into the house, was to lay out and plant a garden. Before long, I had extra produce to share with the cows. I would call to them if they were across the field, their heads would rise, a glance our way, and they would all trot over to get food and pats. Horses had a pasture behind our house, which was, before too long, purchased by a developer who started to build houses. We wanted to save the area bordering on our land, so we bought two lots from him, and on these, we built the Tai Chi Studio.
Beyond this valley, in our view, there are foothills covered with mostly fir trees, and a few houses, and finally, in the distance, snow covered peaks of the Olympic Mountains. Paradise. Then changes started to speed up. The herd disappeared, as the woman who owned them moved and sold her place. A large housing unit, three stories, was built directly on the other side of the valley from us. A nursing home was built next to it. These two were in one large plated lot, one third of our valley, the furthest from our house. The rest of that far area was turned into an organic farm and continues to flourish after 25 years or so.
The middle field was next to be settled. One half of it became a homestead for a family. Hundreds of trees were planted, an orchard, vineyard. The other half was purchased by a developer who turned his land into into a field for growing grains, while he decided what to do with it. The middle field has low spots where wet lands appear during the rainy months. Frogs, birds, and other wild life made it home. That left the closest field, where the cows had roamed. It hasn’t changed, and will soon be the only open space in Happy Valley. There is already lots of pressure for the present owner to sell for more houses.
All of these changes happened over the course of 32 years. Slow and steady. Very Tai Chi like. Our orchard grew, our house settled into its comfortable, welcome nature. Then a year ago, we learned that the second half of the middle field had been sold to become home to a senior co-op housing group. There is to be 28 homes in this once open space. I put up some resistance, as I felt, and feel, it is a shame to take farmland and put it into houses. But I accepted the inevitable.
Yesterday they started to bring in the large earth shaping equipment. I went for a walk today to see what was going on. We can’t quite see this plot of land from our house. It is a bit too far to our left, hidden behind a stand of ceder trees on our property. And this walk got me thinking about change and how it happens, how we have to learn to adapt, how to make the best of circumstance we might not feel in harmony with.
The top soil was being skimmed off and removed. This valley was originally made by a glacier moving through eons ago. Then the sand, finally the dirt and wild grass cover. Gentle curves and mounds, depressions and rises. This used to be a place of portage for the canoes of the Native Americans of our area, as they moved from the open water of the Straits of Juan de Fuca to our tranquil bay. It is a low area with many ponds along the way. As I walked by, all this had changed. It was all level, the top soil removed. How sad. I know Port Townsend, like most desirable places to live, has been experiencing a housing boom. The earth gets crowded, resources stressed. Can we adapt to these changes, live in new ways, find ways to make things better, giving and not just taking? It remains to be seen. Yin and Yang are always relative. For me, having the development is negative, yet for them it hopefully will be positive. We view life through our own senses, needs, and desires, and each of us is different. I hope and pray for the wisdom to see the changes coming and move in harmony with them. After all, the negative of the horse pasture being sold to a developer led to the Tai Chi Studio and it’s importance to thousands of area residents.
This balanced vision, yin and yang, positive and negative, is one of the goals and demonstrated benefits of Tai Chi practice.
Note: This was originally written in 2016. Very few changes or additions. The senior co-op housing has turned out to be a wonderful addition to the valley.