It is evening and the winter sky is darkening steel. The earth is hard under my feet. The flagstone feels like iron. On the side of the garage, an old sleeping hydrangea’s branches remind me of skeleton fingers. Through the open door I see the heavy bag hanging. Beside the garage, two wooden posts sit in a circular patch of frozen black mulch.
In the center of the uneven stone patio, I stop. With each breath my belly slowly pushes in and out against shirt, sweater and parka. Everything else is very still. Then my arms rise to salute heaven, humanity and earth. I begin to walk.
I feel each step that carries me around a circle, the touch of my heel, the ball of my foot pressing on stone. My head rises a little more. I relax the tension in my shoulders. I turn – too much lean. I turn again – still leaning. Relax more and turn again and again and again. Into the garage, muscles lifting arms, feeling the impact of the strike in my whole body.
The bag is not impressed. I circle it, striking once more as I turn. The bag jumps. More turns. More strikes, one after another as the bag and I begin to dance together, its chains rattling in a stuttering beat. I begin to glide. Over the floor and outside again to start weaving between the posts. Need to adjust my steps, focus on timing and distance. Relax and focus. Focus and relax. I spin around the posts, changing directions and patterns over and over.
And then the posts are spinning around me.
I feel them, strike them effortlessly without thought as they pass. The whole back yard is moving. Now I’m on the flagstone, whirling, now in the garage and I feel nothing as the bag leaps and jangles in time to my strikes, now the posts again. There is nothing left of me except movement and intention and a point of view. The world and I are endlessly waltzing through the void.
I return to the flagstone patio and all the circles fold into one that slowly spirals into its still centre. Back to the beginning, I end my practice. I bow to west, north, east and south: each direction a signpost – honesty, humility, patience, sincerity. I pause at the foot of the stairs into my house, turn and face the back yard, and bow my thanks. I go inside and start to prepare supper.