A Week of Tai Chi

This past week, Lisa and I spent a week at Walker Creek Ranch for our third Tai-Chi camp with our teacher Lenzie Williams, a camp every bit as valuable and memorable an experience as the past two.

As has been the case the past two years, the ranch has been an absolutely beautiful place to be. No television (we don’t have one anyways…), no radio, no computers, no cell phone signals: a wonderfully quiet, serene, and beautiful hilly, golden landscape. We saw many animals this year, from deer to sheep, from lizards to snakes, from all manner of birds. The air was fresh, the skies dynamic, and the wind was gentle but moving. The nights were lit with a full-moon, and sleep was easy with the cover of darkness and silence in the lodges we all stayed at.

I felt that this year there were many tai-chi gems of wisdom that I picked up, not only the many from Lenzie’s teachings and conversations, but also a great deal from the other participants who were so very generous in sharing their knowledge. (Some of the things I felt I had learned were not necessarily things that people gave so much as did, whether it be their character, their focus in posturing, the way they pushed, etc.) The push-hands experience this year was really great and getting to push with many different people was fantastic experience. The form classes were excellent, filled with solid work and great details.

It was really great to reconnect with a lot of people we had met the past couple of years, growing those relationships and sharing more of ourselves, as well getting to know new people at the camp. One thing that has always stood out to me after the past camps is how much I enjoy and respect Tai-Chi players, for their character and their humanity. Confucious discusses this somewhat, about surrounding yourself with good people, and I can’t think of a better group of people to be around than those I spent the last week with.

This camp had a different feel for me; the past two I felt were something of a peak for the year, while this year’s camp had a real feel of a beginning to the rest of the year. Hopefullly I will be able to keep focused and disciplined enough to take all of Lenzie’s teachings and continue on with what was established at camp.

There’s a lot more to think about in regards to last week, but it’s all things that will take time and practice to fully understand and experience (like how all the exercises we do in class have so much more depth to them than at first glance!). But just a final note: I am very lucky to have such a knowledgable, generous, and genuine teacher. Lenzie is a real treasure, a person gifted enough to not only understand tai-chi at the highest level but also be able to teach that information. I find that as time passes and I learn more and more about Tai-Chi from Lenzie, the more I realize how deep both the art and the teacher are.

^_^

A Walk to the End of the Pier

So I have been working at the same company for the past two and a half years, at the same office at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. In all that time, I had always thought to walk to the end of the pier which surrounds Aquatic Park, but had never gone and done so. This morning, before leaving the apartment, I had decided that today would be the day I would go.

After a longer than expected meeting during lunch, I took a little time back at my desk working on StaffPad before leaving the office for my small adventure. Going downstairs and getting a tall Americano, I proceeded to head towards the edge of the square and on to the pier. It was beautiful out today, a clear, wonderfully blue sky, the wind rustling, feeling fresh, alive. By the time I had gotten halfway down the pier my Americano was at a very good sipping temperature, a perfect foil to the cool gusts of wind that surrounded me.

As I got to the end of the pier, I looked back at where I had come from, back to Ghirardelli Square, and thought to myself how much further it seemed away than I had thought it would be. Looking around I saw the Golden Gate Bridge from a view I had never taken, Alcatraz was closer than I had seen before, and I noticed details on the old sailing ship that I was never quite aware of.

Surrounded by water, the sun shining down, I noticed that the wind was so loud that it drowned out all the other sounds with its noise. A deafening silence, sips of warm coffee, a slow walk back down the pier. By the time I had gotten back to the beginning of the pier I had finished my Americano, ready now to return back to the office, a cool breeze and a warm smile.

So simple, how twenty minutes can make all the difference…

Feldman, Scelsi, Myself

I’ve been working in a different direction lately in my music. It’s been very interesting and exciting for me to explore this sound world as it’s really something I feel like I could only truly explore now as my tools –blue and my orchestral composition library–have recently developed to allow such work to even happen. (I don’t think I could use these musical techniques with any other musical tools, or at least, in a way that is as intuitive as it is with blue.)

I had been looking into music by Penderecki and thinking of Xenakis as well in trying to get some ideas, but yesterday I thought to start listening to Scelsi once again and immediately found myself incredibly drawn to his music. The sound of his music is absolutely fresh and alive, so rich in its motion, its undulations, its breathing… I remember reading something Xenakis said in regards to working with sounds that were alive, and yesterday reading Scelsi’s comments on sound in a similar spirit, makes me think a lot about the ideas and sounds in the music I’m working on now.

For a long time I’ve been very influenced by Feldman’s music, the sheer beauty of its delicate fabric of sound, as well as in the construction and technique of his pieces. A great deal of my thought has been invested in contemplating his music. Yet, I had always found a great deal in many other composers’ music, music of a very different nature, such as Crumb, or Scelsi, or Messiaen. I have drawn on many of these composers ideas, but I have felt that it was very difficult to get experience with a number of their techniques, and therefore, difficult to truly understand the taste and flavor of these techniques. I think now that it is possible, I will continue to explore this path and see what comes from it all, if these techniques will end up really becoming my own.