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In Search of Tao in my Tai Chi

February 14th, 2011 No comments

Last night I attended the Chinese New Year banquet of that was organized by the Taoist Tai Chi club in Vancouver.  Tai Chi-ers were there from across the lower mainland.  We occupied the entire Gain Wah restaurant in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown.  Six platters of different seafood (oysters, crab, lobster, squid), chicken and pork were served before any vegetables.  I think I sat with an empty plate and a sorry little cup of tea for the first hour and a half watching the other eight people feast with regular looks and comments of concern (or other thoughts I could not interpret) for my stomach-in-waiting.

At first I was really disappointed that I was the only vegetarian there because on previous occassions at the club, there were at least 10%  vegetarians and the orders for food were made to meet that demand.  Did all those values and principles go out the window for the sake of observing a Chinese New Year feast?

“How long have you been vegetarian?” one woman asked me.  “Since October,” I said, “about the same time I started Tai Chi.  By the silent response and gaze down, I take it that my fledgling status as either or both were not substantive enough to be taken seriously.  In her senior position (as tai chi student and by age) I bet she was thinking, ‘Why don’t you just eat something?  It’s not going to kill you!’  In fact, that’s what my mom’s says in an effort to get me to eat her cooking with fish or chicken in it.  And it’s true, it wouldn’t kill me on the spot, but nothing about it would feel good.

I enjoy the challenge of refining the moves of Tai Chi and meeting people in the club.  I enjoy the challenge of eating a plant-based diet in a culture addicted to animal products.  And both of these lifestyle choices support each other and me in my constant movement towards optimal health.  Learning about Tai Chi principles and practicing them requires attention, and in a similar manner, so does eating a plant-based diet.

It felt a bit lonely for the first hour and a half being the only one not feasting, but not one moment passed that I wished to join the meat feast.  “You’re demonstrating a lot of discipline, Janice,” another woman said.

I replied, “I started Tai Chi to help me with my discipline, so I guess it’s working.”  In actuality, there was no temptation so it wasn’t much of a demonstration of discipline.

Call me crazy, but to exercise in a practice like Tai Chi and then feast out on loads of animals seems like a sanity I would rather not be.