Qi Whiz…

I heard a lot about “Qi” during my year teaching in China. Everything involved Qi. In a way, it’s “breath” or life. I interpreted it as “life force.” A person’s Qi could be blocked because their house was too cluttered for the Qi to move. On New Years it was very important to clean the steps in front of one’s house and to wear new clothes to attract the best Qi of the new year. Qi is constantly in motion.

Qi exists in our minds, too. If you’ve ever puzzled over something a long time only to have an epiphany, that’s Qi being released and the mind clearing. Tears at something beautiful, music, a painting — Qi releasing, the heart opening. The complicated graceful motions of Tai-chi? Designed to help Qi move as it should, as it wants to.

I like the idea of it, but a lot of my Chinese friends considered it a superstition. I don’t really think so. I think there are a lot of complicated “micr-forces” that act on our well-being and not all of them are supernatural or even out there. People often have a higher self-esteem when they’re dressed well. Light coming into a house has a cheering effect (because we can see better?) Neatness and orderliness in our homes makes life less frustrating because we’re not perpetually tripping over stuff.

After I finish projects in my little studio I clean the surface I’ve been working on. I’m not thinking that I’m opening it up so the Qi can flow, but any Chinese would. Sometimes (and this is Qi, too) I discover things that challenge or lighten the Qi in my mind. This happened the other day.

I had cleaned off the surface of the table that is the “table of all work” in there and I found a little pile of treasures I’d set aside and hadn’t dealt with. I picked up the treasures and put them in the Big Envelope of All Small Treasures I Cannot Throw Out. All of them went into that envelope but one photo that I missed. It is a photo of my brother, his wife and me in 1979 working on a giant snow bear behind my mom’s condo in Denver. My mom took the picture.

It was my niece’ first Christmas. She was just a 6 week old baby. It was a very happy Christmas for all of us and it was improved by a massive dump of snow.

My mom really hated the fact that my brother and I were artists. “My children are NOT going to be artists,” she said. “Art is a four letter word in this house.” But my brother was an artist and I am an artist and there really wasn’t anything she (or Kirk or I) could do about it. Her attitude was one of the things I’ve had to overcome in my life, and I’ve only succeeded in fits and starts. I guess the support and approval of our parents (duh, Martha) is important, but not everyone has that, or even parents for that matter. We have to do our thing without it, but there is a gnawing ugly thing inside that messes up our Qi.

I’d seen this photo many times but I had never turned it over. I didn’t turn it over this time, either. I dropped it. On the back I saw my mom’s handwriting…

I’m never going to understand that very complex woman, but that she wrote this, expressing wonder over what her two strange kids were doing?

Let the Qi flow. ❀


24 thoughts on “Qi Whiz…

  1. Wow. Her comment on the back of the photo speaks volumes in a way. What a nice surprise (I think the exclamation point says it all πŸ™‚). I also believe that Qi is for real (as well as that “gnawing ugly thing” that messes it up). When I clear off surfaces, I just feel better. And, yes, more energized. One simplistic example, but just recognizing it does motivate me to clear out the clutter more often.

  2. I had several courses in acupuncture for horses – and I do think Qi is real. I’m not sure how or why but it does work… (and when doing it in animals there is no doubt because there isn’t any complication of mental suggestion/placebo effect)
    I love that you discovered the message – there are no accidents. Perhaps that message was just what you needed to hear as your paintings are displayed!!!

    • I agree with you. That message was a little present from Heaven.

      I think Qi is real. I can feel it when mine is unbalanced. When that happens I look around for how I can open it. I think a lot of it is just allowing “it” to be instead of pushing toward something. Acupuncture is fantastic. I went to an acupuncturist for help with my knee. He said there was something with my ovaries. I was 41. I was in peri-menopause and didn’t know it. My OB/GYN refused to give me a hormone test because I was so young. The whole thing got really scary for a few years. That was when I had my nervous breakdown. When a different doctor gave me a hormone test (I was 43) the situation was clear and I had HRT. My emotional stability returned. The acupuncture doctor was on the right track. My conventional doctor wasn’t.

  3. My heart melts at the discovery of a new thing. A new idea. I’ve heard of Qi but never explored it’s significance beyond use in Scrabble as a way to unload the Q without a U. As I am surrounded on all sides by incomplete work–some of it quite insistently seeking attention at this point–and detritus–I can’t help but think the Chinese have a point. It would help immensely to unload the burden of this stuff. And today, I just happened to order some boxes for storage. Coincidence? I think not. I think the universe is sending me a signal. It is saying, “Get off the computer and do some work and clean your office.”

    But thanks for sharing your snow bear. (Why a bear? Is that a thing where you are from?)

  4. I love the concept of Qi but it eludes me, so ethereal; a bit like your snow bear. Which is magnificent by the way. I bet your mother thought your mother her children were both magnificent too. Perhaps she wanted to be out there making that bear too?

  5. I’m familiar with Qi, but have never thought of it being released as I well up at a beautiful song or when inspiration comes. What a great way to think of it. As for clearing clutter, I did so tonight from a small cabinet I never touch. Amazing how good it feels–and now I realize it’s probably because the Qi can flow:).

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