A Seattle Weekly reader asks:
Credit: Rod Filbrandt
Dear Uptight Seattleite,
Please explain the compulsion some Seattleites feel to practice tai chi in public. This week on the Seattle-bound run of the Winslow ferry, I observed a middle-aged man practicing tai chi who looked like he was going to mate with the bulkhead, until he almost fell down. Note that it was a calm day and there were no swells. A regular on the ferry told me the man does this every morning. My dog and I always see this other guy who’s tai chi’d to death all the grass around a tree in a park near my house. I see the same thing at Volunteer Park, Green Lake, and other places around the city: middle-aged white guys sweeping the air in elaborate, self-conscious slow motion. Why do they have to do it in public?
Dear Mr. Chi,
We feel compelled to practice Tai Chi because it improves balance, strength, circulation and flexibility; decreases blood pressure and stress hormones; and promotes relaxation and general well being. In fact, some regard Tai Chi as the most perfect exercise routine ever created.
As a fellow resident of the best-educated city in America, you are no doubt aware of Tai Chi’s impressive health benefits, but none of this explains our strange penchant for exhibitionism, does it? We share and respect your inhibitions, sir, but practical matters force us to perform under your jaundiced eye.
We need a large open space to practice our elaborate sweeping motions, and the secluded confines of our houses are regrettably too small. Furthermore, by adjourning to the park, we absorb as much vitamin D as the dreary Northwest weather will provide. Without this regular infusion of sunlight, you see, our vital yin/yang balance would be lost.
We understand that our public displays of harmonious movement may offend you. In that case, please feel free to exit the scene. There are some good shows on the TV for you to enjoy. Or so I’ve been told; I don’t own a television myself.
A Seattle Tai Chi Exhibitionist