It happened again. I was practicing push hands with another tai chi student before class a few days ago. (Push hands is sort of like tai chi sparring with a partner.) The teacher was watching us from across the room as he got ready for class. After a few minutes, he called to me, “You’re trying too hard.”
Sigh. Like I haven’t heard THAT before! Many times….
A few months ago I was practicing push hands with a different tai chi teacher. All my efforts were easily and immediately turned to my disadvantage. Seeking some advice, I said, “I’m trying to….”
The teacher interrupted. “That’s your problem. You’re trying.”
Bruce Lee famously gave this advice in an interview about his martial arts style. “Be water, my friend.” Water does not try. It doesn’t struggle. It doesn’t contend. It flows effortlessly in harmony with gravity and the contours of its environment. As the Tao Te Ching observes, nothing is softer, yet nothing is more powerful.
As in martial arts, so in life. I have recently been trying to have a conversation with someone who continues to avoid it. This conversation, in my own mind, would be very beneficial to the other person, offering some insight and advice about how to move forward through a challenging situation.
I have rehearsed what I want to say, I have offered opportunities to get together, I have encouraged the other person to hear me out. But. The. Other. Person. Doesn’t. Want. To.
I’m trying too hard. Again.
So I’m taking a deep breath and settling down. I will wait. The conversation will happen or it won’t. If it does, it will happen at the right time, and if I’m paying attention and willing to release control, I will know what to say. And it will be helpful or it won’t. I can’t control the outcome. I can only flow with the current and see where it takes me.
Is there a place in your life where you are trying too hard?
Do or do not. There is no try. ~Yoda