My Greatest Life Lesson

Everything changes, so keep your mind and heart always open.

* * * * *

I had no idea at the time, but one of the best things that ever happened to me was when on a school field trip to Quebec when I was 14 years old.

I was just learning downhill skiing, and near the end of the day I decided to attempt a more challenging run. I ended up crashing into a snowbank, not able to move or get myself out, and calling out in French for help for about an hour before someone found me and took me to the hospital.

Both of my knees were badly injured, which meant I couldn’t ride a bike, go up and down stairs very well, or play sports. So I turned to Tai Chi, which seemed like the only thing I could manage. Little did I know how important this would be to my life!

Over the course of the next two decades, I learned a tremendous amount from Tai Chi and other mindful movement practices, often dedicating 10 hours a week to these studies.

Here’s some of what I learned that I’d love to share with you:

1. Beginner’s mind. If you practice keeping your mind open and fresh, as though you are learning something for the first time, you will see new possibilities and wonder and opportunities everywhere.

2. Equal and opposite. Everything in life is constantly shifting. Good or bad, up or down, feelings and circumstances tend to balance each other out. If you push someone, expect that they will push you back with equal and opposite force. If you’re stressed out, give yourself a treat of relaxation equal to the amount of stress.

3. To teach is to learn twice. In teaching someone something, you must first understand it well enough to be able to explain it. So teaching is actually an act of learning. Guiding my daughters through their life has actually ended up helping me figure out how to live my own life.

4. Partners matter. Sometimes it’s useful to learn and practice on your own, and sometimes working with a partner can really deepen and enrich your understanding. As in Tai Chi, so in life.

These are some of the biggest lessons that guide my life, and I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes:

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind, there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *