One day I was out for a walk and I noticed a group of older Asian folks at the playground. They were standing in a circle, swinging their arms around, slapping at their shoulders, wigging their hips, and swaying their bodies around. I was like "what the dealio...??"
I had so many questions. Who's the leader? IS there a leader? What are they doing?? Whatever they're doing, it made me so happy to see them doing it! They were out here, moving and grooving, as a community.
My next question was should I join them? Wouldn't it be funny to try whatever it is they're doing? But then I got all shy. What if they say no? What if it's a closed group? What if I make a fool out of myself? I'm not a shy person but for some reason, I was so awkward and shy about this. And so I kept walking.
Does this sound familiar to you? Have you held back on something out of fear? Because it was out of your comfort zone? Like joining that gym? Like trying a new activity? Like learning something new?
A few weeks later, I saw the group again. This time they're doing what looks like Tai Chi. And once again, I'm flooded with feelings of trepidation and shyness. My heart starts racing. And so I kept walking. But as I passed them, I thought to myself, what would my best self do? My best self would walk right up to them with a big smile on my face, and ask to join in. And so I took a deep breath, turned around, and walked right into the abyss. I was so nervous!
And guess what? They smiled back. And they waved me in. And for the next hour I was swinging my arms around, slapping at my shoulders, wigging my hips, and swaying my body around, right alongside them. I met Rita, the only one that can speak a few words of English and she told me they come here everyday at 9am for their "exercises". First I got weird glances and smiles, like who is this youngun? But then I got big smiles and even a giggle or two as I fumbled through the movements.
Here's what I learned:
1. Movement is a universal language. Even when you cannot communicate verbally, you can communicate through movement.
2. Movement transcends all ages. It doesn't matter how old they are or how young I am, when we're moving, it's all that matters.
3. Movement brings people together. I have no idea how this group got started or for how long or if they hang out as well. I met another lady the next day that spoke some English. She tells me if it's raining, they all know to go to the community center. They don't text each other. They look up at the sky and just know what to do. Say whaaaat.
4. Feeling insecure is a choice. Besides Rita, who seems to be the leader, no one knows what they're doing, and it's totally OK. We're all looking back at her as she goes into a deep lunge with her right hand in an upside down hook thing while her left hand is reaching for the sky in a fist thing. We try to copy and mess up, and it's all good.
5. These guys have the best mobility! They were lunging, squatting, swaying, hip thrusting and hip circling like it was nobody's business. They were moving in all the directions and I was so so SO happy!
6. I learned that when you ask yourself "what would my best self do?", you should listen to the answer and go for it.
Do you have a Tai Chi group in your neighborhood? Maybe you just haven't noticed them. Trust me, they're there. And when you see them, I triple dog dare you to join in! Comment below if you've ever felt the way I felt- shy and nervous. How did you get over it? Or are you still working on it?
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