Today I practiced Tai chi, and today I will write.
Both are personal goals. About 12 years ago I decided I wanted to learn Tai Chi. I loved dance classes and thought that to add Tai Chi would give me a physical practice that would take me to the end of my days. Very old people practice Tai Chi, and in fact it helps you stay on your feet, balanced, uninjured and mobile, as you age. I first looked to see if there was a class at the YMCA and there was. I was chagrined when I showed up to learn that you have to learn the form in the cycle of classes, and they were one-third of the way through. I figured I could catch up. (I do have an arrogant streak.) Well, no- not in tai Chi. It is serious and you don’t just jump in and think you understand the choreography, much less the principles. So I looked elsewhere and found a teacher and have studied under him once or twice a week within a wonderful community for about 12 years. I learned the choreography and will work on the principles for the rest of my life.
Around that same time, my school started putting money toward training teachers in the workshop method in teaching readers and writers, new out of Teacher’s College in NY. I took every opportunity. We were fortunate to have the gifted and generous Katherine Bomer come regularly to our school for several years. Then many of us started going to weeklong trainings at TC. We started a small group of teachers meeting to write together. (Half our group is now retired from teaching, but not from writing.)
When I was having a post-winter holiday dinner at a neighbor’s, we went around the table stating New Year’s resolutions. I said, “I am learning how to teach first graders how to become writers. While I do that, I will become a writer myself.” I am sure it sounded silly to others, but I put it out there. And it is working.
The long view.
State a goal and tell somebody what your intention is. Take a first step. Take another and find a way to another. Build it into your routine, don’t just expect to do it ‘when there’s a little free time’- there is never free time. Keep going, keep practicing. Show up for the work, even when you don’t feel like it. Keep a healthy respect for the difficulty of what you are setting out to do. And consider it a life-long endeavor.
(And having a community does help.)