Curious to learn about Justin Stone, creator of Tai Chi Chih that became part of my life after terminating Freudian psychoanalysis, I invested in Stone’s book: Climb the Joyous Mountain.
Velcro straps secured the infra-red heating pad around my freezing calves as I started reading Stone’s book on a day temperatures in Iowa hovered around minus 7 degrees. I was drawn to begin with Chapter 2, Cold Kyoto Morning. In this chapter, Stone described his experience at the small Tenrikyo Church community.
When I encountered the second paragraph I was horrified to read this: “With no central heating system to ward off the cruel winds in Kyoto, the cold is piercing. Nevertheless, by custom, most windows are opened wide at morning.”
Just as I cannot imagine having the courage to design a new style Tai Chi as Stone did with Tai Chi Chih in 1974, I cannot fathom why anyone in their right mind would have opened windows when it was so cold.
I hate being cold. I would not want to be there despite the lure of a promised ancient Emperor’s Palace nearby. Reverting to my time on the couch, I began to free associate remembering how my analyst would imply, using her skillfully constructed interpretations, that my need for comfort prevented me from fully participating in life. Often this irritated me! Who doesn’t want to be comfortable?
I felt a tiny bubble of competition well up inside me. Will Stone agree that comfort has merit, or will he side with my former analyst’s contempt for comfort? Will he be on my side? Or hers?
I turn the page.
“If I am cold in my heavy winter underwear as I leave the futon, so is everyone else. Consequently, it is not so bad. When we do not suffer alone, we do not really suffer.”
I turn off my heating pad in solidarity with my new friend Justin Stone, but I draw the line at opening the window.