Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy

Youth - a happy balance

Gill Wang    2018-05-19

I froze in mute horror as black and white liquid oozed down to my otherwise clean shoes. My insides crawled. There are just some things that no one, not even the most paranoid of people, would ever prepare for... such as being pooped on by a bird. When I finally remembered that I was not, in fact, a marble statue, I grabbed my phone and punched in a number so familiar that the movements were almost ingrained. As soon as the line connected, I yelled, "MOM!" The urgency in my voice shocked her. "What happened?" she asked. Words rushed out in an incoherent stream as I tried to express my disgust. "My shoes are- I was just trying to go to- All these birds everywhere-" Eventually, my mother pieced my stuttering into a full story. I'd been hoping for sympathy, some comforting words, an offer to go out to my favorite restaurant this weekend. Instead, I got a peal of laughter. As desperately as I tried to be annoyed, I soon found myself laughing with her; my mom has an uncanny ability for injecting positivity into situations. Before hanging up, she congratulated me, reminding me of the superstition that bird poop means good luck.

I share every moment of my life with my mom. We watch our favorite shows together and snicker on the couch. We go on mother-daughter dates to In-n-Out. She's the first person I tell about anything, like the time I tripped at our homecoming rally in front of the entire school, or when I successfully led my first Future Business Leaders of America meeting. Our close relationship has always felt natural, but it has also grown as a result of Tai Ji Men Academy, which has greatly influenced the way we interact with each other, as well as how we interact with the world around us.

I've been with Tai Ji Men for a very long time. I certainly don't remember a time without Tai Ji Men. And it has affected much of my personal and social life. One saying from Shifu that I always follow suggests that I approach my homework like it's a game. Whenever I'm stressed, or when assignments just keep piling up, I pretend each assignment is a level in a game. Completing an assignment means beating that level. With each completed assignment, I move closer and closer to the end--and therefore, the prize. It's not a perfect metaphor since there's not really some magical prize at the end. The assignments, and the new knowledge that comes with them, are themselves the prize. But maintaining a positive attitude towards my work helps me remember that, and to hold dear everything I'm learning.

Shifu's wisdom truly helps me through challenging times, transforming moments of sadness or doubt into positivity. On test days, I meditate for five minutes in the morning before leaving for school. During those short five minutes, I inhale and exhale deeply to calm myself down; later in the day, my heart is steady and my mind focused.

Tai Ji Men has also given me a community. Much of my time outside school is filled with the laughter and jokes of younger members. Their innocence and purity never fail to make me smile. In bonding with the kids, I pass forward the encouragement and wisdom that Shifu has given to me, both through my words and through my actions. And whenever I see the kids use my advice, I realize how much of a difference I can make. Jasper, who's never showed much attention toward his sister, now asks her if she's alright whenever she frowns. Oscar, who's always scared to say sorry to strangers when he accidentally bumped them, now apologizes without hesitation. Vicky, who's without competition for the role of class troublemaker, now quiets down when I ask. I've helped them grow by teaching them to be considerate, confident, and courteous. And I think, in just a decade, they'll be the ones in my shoes, passing on what they've learned from me, as well as from everyone else at Tai Ji Men. It's a ripple effect: I've interacted with these three kids. Who knows how many they'll meet and influence? This is the core of Tai Ji Men's philosophy. We can generate positivity one person at a time until it spreads throughout the world.

Shifu's advice has helped me so much in defining my close relationship with my mother and teaching me how to be a good role model for the children of my community. But it definitely doesn't have to stop there. Recently, I participated in an event called Challenge Day, where students share their life experiences. I was shocked to hear things like "My parents gave me the responsibility of taking care of my younger sibling when I was still a child" and "I have trouble sleeping because I get nightmares almost every night." Many also expressed devastation at internal familial problems. Sure, I knew in a purely academic sense that my life must be drastically different from the experiences of the cashier at the grocery store, or even the girl who sits next to me in math class. But it wasn't until I met these people and heard the raw details of their stories that I realized how true that was. There's a lot of negativity in the world right now, and Shifu wants us to provide positive energy and good communication. Positivity is like laughter -- it's contagious. Looking at these past seventeen years in Tai Ji Men, I'm grateful for Shifu, Shimu, and my parents for bringing me to the Academy. Thank you for molding my values, helping me become a better person, and allowing me to affect others positively.