Today I did something really fun: I went to a tai chi class! This gentle form of exercise was recommended to me for my osteoporosis, as it helps balance, posture, and can prevent falls. It was held the next town over, sponsored by the recreation department, and was completely free of charge. In the summer it’s held in the park, but now that temperatures are cooler it’s held in the town’s basketball gym. Forty-two people (including the instructor) showed up, and other than one 30 year-old woman, I was the youngest one there! Imagine 40 people between the ages of 60-80 moving silently and gracefully with great balance and coordination. It was an interesting mix of people, including preppy-looking WASPs who looked as though they had stepped right out of an LLBean catalog, as well as many old, tough “Mainuhs” who in their younger days might have considered tai chi “weird” or “for sissies.” But several of the attendees simply could not do more strenuous exercise due to severe arthritis and past injuries; and despite that they wanted to keep moving and tai chi was within their realm of possibility. Many of the ladies who were formerly stiff and sore and crippled by arthritis and osteoporosis were now spry, agile, and once again able to enjoy working in their gardens, following several months of practicing tai chi. It also provided the crowd an opportunity to socialize, especially for those who live in more isolated areas outside of town.
There are 108 different “moves” or segments in tai chi, and they are done from start to finish in a particular order. Since this class was intended for newbies, we learned only three of the moves today. But afterwards, the more experienced class members (about 35 people) stayed to do the entire segment, which takes about 20 minutes. How the heck they remembered the order, much less the intricacy of the moves themselves, is beyond belief. I’m lucky to remember more than two or three things in sequence, much less 108!
I guess someone’s “Jewdar” was operating because one elderly gentleman approached and asked me if I was a “sister” – a member of the Tribe. He hails originally from New York and said, “I couldn’t wait to get the h*** out of there.” When his kids left home, he retired to a small home in Maine. I asked him if he’d like to join us for Shabbat dinner and he said, “I would love to, but I have to tell you – – my wife isn’t Jewish and so I don’t know if you would still want us to come.”
I gave him my phone number and left the rest up to him.