Thursday, April 22, 2010

Finding inspiration from Li Bai

Li Bai (李白) (701-762) also known to Westerners as Li Bo or Li Po is one of my favorite Chinese poets from the Tang Dynasty. He is as well-respected in the Chinese speaking world as Shakespeare is in the English-speaking world. However, when Li Bai was young, he was not very fond of going to school. He disliked the books of classics and history that his teacher made him read. He thought they were difficult and boring. Instead, he liked to skip school and hang around the neighborhood. He wanted to quit school and have fun and play with other kids all the time.

One day, when he was skipping school, he saw an old woman sitting down and grinding a thick iron bar on a big stone. He became very curious. He asked the old woman, “What is this for?"

The woman wiped sweat from her face and said: "I want to grind this rod into an embroidery needle."

Li Bai laughed very hard: "Are you kidding? How can you make this thick bar into an embroidery needle?"

The old woman said in confidence: "Young man, everything takes time. As long as I make enough efforts and do it every day, it can be gradually done."

Hearing this, Li Bai stopped laughing and was very moved. He immediately went back to continue his studies, and later became a very famous poet.

This story always reminds me of the importance of perseverance. Instead of simply imagining lofty goals for your life and your Tai Chi, starting small, and continuing to work slowly every day will bring you closer to your goals. Like the English writer Thomas Carlyle said, “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”

Copyrighted by Huan's Tai Chi 2010

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