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.Never get stuck thinking small, thinking slow, thinking any one state a finality; otherwise, life turns stagnant—the hallways narrow.This is an abuse of the gift of mobility.When I lost Rourke, I shut down to chance.I risked nothing.I left the table.Once out, you do not get invited back.You have to charm your way, muscle your way.I look like a whore.On the way downtown everyone stares at the way I’m dressed.At home I tried on several outfits, but no matter what I chose, I looked like a whore.The problem is, I don’t know how to be.I don’t know whether to be the girl I was, the one who came alive through his eyes, or the other one, the one I’ve become, proof of the mistake he made in leaving me.Anyway, I won’t go back to the girl.I’m afraid to go back.That’s why I look like a whore: dressing this way is a type of armor.I take four concrete flights up to a loft north of Chinatown on Lafayette near Cleveland Place.A letter-board at the head of the stairs lists classes and events.Fridays at four is NYPD combat Tai Chi.Today’s guest is boxer and Olympic trainer Harrison Rourke.Twenty-five guys sit in a semicircle listening to a diminutive Chinese man in a canvas robe and loose pants—Mr.Xinwu.The Chinaman.The room is lined with trophies and banners with Chinese lettering.To my right there are framed quotes and photographs of famous Tai Chi masters—Yang Chengfu, Zheng Maqing, Ben Lo, Wang Shujin.There is a huge parchment paper document with a line by Lao-Tsu from the “Tao Te Ching.”Those who master others are strong;Those who master themselves have true power.Right away I find Rourke, the way a magnet finds north.My throat tightens.His large back is there among all the other large backs, his cotton jacket taut across it, wrinkled at the arms same as the other wrinkled jackets; still, I would know his back anywhere.“Body makes root in earth for chi power.” Mr.Xinwu explains as he demonstrates drills—silk-reeling, push hands, sparing gong.“Root prevents fighter from being thrown.A blade of grass does not attack wind or hide from wind.It yields to wind.It has root.Meaning of root is same as good woman—keeps man straight in unbalanced time.” Everyone laughs, then gravely he adds, “Root more lethal than gun.“Special guest Mr.Harrison Rourke is Western boxer.Tai chi helps Mr.Rourke,” he continues.“Western boxer stands too much upright, a stand-up body go down.Body hitting ground is too painful!” Everyone laughs again; Mr.Xinwu laughs too.“Number one objective for boxer—incorporation of pain.Boxer has to stay standing when getting hit.Tai chi teaches Mr.Rourke to yield—like grass in wind.”Mr.Xinwu nods to Rourke, and Rourke rises to join him.Rourke sets his feet shoulder-width apart, bending at the knees and tucking the hips.He breathes deeply, hollows his chest, and raises his back like the hood of a cobra.I try to imagine him preparing for a fight; I follow his actions as though witnessing a metamorphosis.I can almost see the leathering of the skin, the shoring up of the under-muscle, and beneath that, the organs shrinking back; the pulse stopping up, the steadiness of his body dropping to the steadiness of the floor, dropping to the steady chill of the earth.It suddenly looks as if he is holding an invisible ball.Mr.Xinwu refers to this empty space, calling it peng.Peng is protective energy, he says, that helps ward off attacks.When Rourke turns in profile, he sees me.He does not look, or divert his gaze, and yet, I feel his attention attach.Something shoots through me, like a charge.Physically, there is desire, and shock—it’s been so long.Immediately after come things borne of the mind—the pity of wasted time, the injustice of lost access, the sick lie of myself, the way I am dressed.The idea of being alone with him is suddenly terrifying.I step back, thinking to leave, but I stumble.I step back once more and lean against the wall.“Yield to overcome,” Xinwu admonishes, his eyes flickering in my direction.“Bend to be straight.Feel for your opponent, ask what is weak, what is strong? What is solid, what is empty?”Xinwu readies himself.Rourke also readies.They incline their heads and chests ceremoniously.“When my friend was a small boy, he was making street fights,” Xinwu relates haltingly as they begin formally to spar.“When he came to me, he was big mess—very brave, very lacking skill.” Rourke snaps a kick, which Xinwu blocks with incredible economy of action.“I say, ‘Mr.Rourke, you think too much.Do too much.You act when you need to wait.’ I say, ‘You use power.You need to use direction of power.’”They break, moving again, like sculptures painstakingly positioned and repositioned.They stop, they turn.They go lightning fast, then dead slow.It’s beautiful, really—Rourke towering over his friend, and yet he is no match.Xinwu anticipates every next move almost as if he can read the objective of Rourke’s muscles.“Recently my friend returned—still very brave, now more skillful, still big mess.I say, ‘Mr.Rourke, first control emotion to control body.First find silence.’” Mr.Xinwu moves in and finishes to the body.Rourke’s body is hard, like brick; but anyway, it gives, folding in and down, going gracefully to the floor.I suppose there are tender points, like hinges.Even skyscrapers can collapse [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]