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The power of simple adjustments, optimism, and fun against curveballs

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My high school trigonometry teacher was a whiz at simplifying otherwise complex mathematical problems to their simplest parts. She loved trigonometry, math, and teaching tremendously, and on top of that was able to communicate the material without needing any more complexity than needed. She neither oversimplified nor undersimplified.

For whatever reason, trigonometry was a bigger challenge for me than any of my other math subjects, even though I also took calculus, geometry and two levels of algebra. The next year, I took the BASIC computer class with my trigonometry teacher, and after around two weeks, computer programming simply clicked with me. This teacher who praised good work but firmly warned students who got behind proclaimed one day about my computer programming prowess: “I am tickled, Johann”, seeing how much I was soaring with with computer programming, when trigonometry had been much more of a challenge for me. I was not thrilled with this Johann nickname, by the way, but she had one for many students, and apparently thought it fit well with my being a musician, sometimes calling me Johann Sebastian [Bach].

In The Kids are Alright, a member of The Who jested that for any produce that might be thrown his way on stage, he would just swing his microphone cord, and end up with sliced tomatoes.

One day, my taijiquan teacher’s senior student showed me the difference of my opponent’s pulling down on my arm when I put my mind into the arm’s strength (sending the opponent off balance) and not putting my mind into my arm. On another occasion, he showed me the difference between making a minor sinking down hip adjustment when pushed (sending the opponent off balance) and not making the adjustment (causing me to go off balance).

What do all of the above scenarios have in common? Addressing challenges by simple adjustments and fine tuning, optimism, and having fun. The roadrunner did that beautifully.

Why do we not get angry at deadly hurricanes nor attacking dogs, but angry at people acting underhanded and heartless, and our friends badmouthing us? Perhaps because we know that people have the choice between vicious actions and fair actions, and the intelligence to know the difference, and we expect them to exercise better judgment. We can all deal better with adversity and lesser challenges by expecting no better judgment nor kindness from a human than we would from a hurricane, but to delight when humans rise to their full good potential.

Great persuasion includes not letting opponents rattle you. If your opponent knows you can get rattled and how to rattle you, the opponent will have a great time doing so. If you behave unshakeably, the opponent will get too exhausted to seek a spot that makes you go ballistic, and will direct his or her bows and arrows on others, or nobody at all.

A great thing about my daily taijiquan practice is that it reminds me to remain calm in even the most trying of situations. Only by remaining calm can our minds be clear. Only by our minds being clear can they be at their most powerful. Battle onwards.