Friday, May 22, 2009

Tai Chi below Shannon Falls in BC

The practice of the Tai Chi form reaches its apex for me when performed in nature. The first step in learning the Tai Chi is the basics. Once the body mechanics are understood, the applications of each posture need to be comprehended. This develops an ability that demonstrates good structure. Structure is how the body handles pressure. Bad structure collapses under pressure and good structure does not. Once these elements are understood on a general level the most satisfying part of Tai Chi is not being able to defeat multiple attackers, but simply moving and interacting with nature. When you feel you are able to follow nature and understand it as if you were the rider and it was a horse, you are in a place to realize a deeper part of yourself and to improve upon the many weaknesses you endure while living in this complicated world.

Please do not take these words as some type of fixed idea that you complete one step, the basics, then another and so on to the final stage of development, rather take them as a process. By looking at your learning as a work in process, you can shed the idea that there is some kind of fixed state, and you might be easier on yourself.

Sometimes we work the basics and move on to realization, and back to applications, then realize that you totally forgot the basics and have to start all over. The process of Tai Chi can be frustrating but it is important to be easy on yourself and remember to love what you are doing and then do it often.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My letter to Barack Obama about Health care in America

I am a 44 year old American in graduate school in Canada. I am seriously considering applying for citizenship there. The major justification for this decision would overwhelmingly be free health care.

Since I have been there I have not had to battle ANY health care request, whereas my experience in the United States has been quite the opposite. I have had wrist pain for the past 20 years. I have been to multiple doctors in the US. None of them ever addressed the issue without first suggesting pain killers as the solution. While the idea of relying on painkillers is good for the pharmaceutical industry, it is repugnant to me. I then retreated to alternative health care as so many Americans do. Alternative treatments brought me some success but the pain continued. Finally, in Canada, a doctor had a novel idea, a CT scan. I was finally correctly diagnosed, after 20 years with a broken scaphoid bone in my wrist.

I know that a small broken bone doesn't sound like a traumatic disease that has ravaged my life, but I have made major changes to my life because of it. I have been physically active all my life and there are many enjoyable activities and some jobs that I can no longer perform. It is also significant in that it is so small but yet for America so large and expensive.

I have an appointment this September with an orthopedic surgeon in Canada. I feel confident that if he thought he could repair my wrist with a costly surgery, there would be no obstacles in my way. Unlike his American counterpart who would gladly offer the surgery, but then I would have to figure out how to pay for it. In the US, I had to drop health insurance because the $500 per month was too high and my policy probably didn't cover it anyway, because it would have been a ‘preexisting condition.’

The irony of all this is that the injury happened while I was working my way through college in my 20's. I find it ironic because while contributing to the economy I was injured. I was too young to realize the implications of my injury. As an older man the pain from my wrist has a place at the table when decisions are made. I have to listen to it before I engage in certain activities and even certain jobs. Amazingly, even conservatives in Canada realize the importance of single payer health care. The irony continues because here I am at the peak of my ability to contribute to the economy but my country will not assist in my health, and a country not of my birth will gladly do what it is right. As I get older health increasingly becomes a top priority, so how can I resist an excellent opportunity that will insure my health into my golden years?