How About Those Caterpillars?

Johnny Packard

Johnny Packard is the President of USTCC.

It had been a very full week of Zoom chi. On Sunday I was a panelist in the Community’s Professional Development event ‘How to Engage Your Participants Virtually”. It was an inspiring experience,  with more than fifty participants and lots of hard-won insight shared by the other two panelists, Community Vice-president Denise Murray, and Tai Chi Well Being founder Christine Bhe. Then came the week’s usual four classes, including a very special class on Thursday with my Mom Eleanor and sister Amy in attendance in all four dimensions. They came to visit, now that we all are fully vaccinated, and it was our first time ever playing tai chi in-person together, all while assisting me with my regular Tai Chi for Arthritis group that they had joined some months ago on Zoom., Finally, Saturday was World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, and I hosted my first ever virtual celebration of “Our Day”. Whew! What a week of Zoom chi.

So imagine my surprise as I was watched the recording of my World Tai Chi event to discover that I had been in “Eyebrow Enhancement” mode the whole time, during the celebration of “Our Day”, all four classes, the PDS event, and the dress-rehearsal for it, when I presumably “had some work done”. I hope and trust that the participants– nearly a hundred between six different Zoom chi sessions– were bemused, and not too alarmed.  For those who don’t know, some versions of Zoom offer facial “improvements”. Click “Choose video filter”→ “Studio Effects” → “Eyebrows” or “Mustache & Beard” or “Lip Color”, and enjoy the new you. If you listen carefully, you can still hear the echoes of my wife Danniel’s laughter. 

I’ve been thinking about the bent thumb in our “Tai Chi for Health” greeting lately. The fist symbolizes “Strength”. The fingers of the left hand come together like we do and cover the fist to symbolize “Friendship”. And the left thumb is bent for “Humility”. When we are humble we can maintain the beginner’s mind, allowing us to progress in our tai chi practice and teaching. Humility helps us to be life-long learners, a critical component of maintaining cognitive health. Humility also allows us to laugh at ourselves, and grow beyond our limitations. 

This past year — from the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic in March of 2020 until today — we have all had a lifetime’s worth of lessons in humility. Some of those lessons have been painful and profound experiences of loss. Others have been humorous realizations of our foibles and faults. Along the way, many of us have grown in ways that we never imagined. How about those caterpillars?

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