Many things have to meet at kai. There's the mechanical alignment of the body, allowing the forces in play between the body and the bow to flow between the body, the bow, the sky, and the ground. There's spiritual alignment, writing about which I'm not going to do because I'd just express it incorrectly, but all I'll say is that every motion is a gesture of connection, of giving, or of both.
My last kyudo lesson, the bow and the arrow showed me the difference between passive and active giving. My teacher told me not to release the arrow as quickly as I had been, but to stay in kai until I had actually come to "meeting," no matter how long it took. But not merely to stand there static, but to keep reaching, to keep offering the bow to the target. And on my last shot, I did that; even with the tension of the string and the bow pushing against me, I kept extending myself along the line of the arrow, stretching, reaching towards the target, trying to give the arrow to the target.
And suddenly, there was a rush of adrenaline--not in me, in the arrow. It came to life, it leapt out of my hands, it flew at the target, with an energy, an excitement, that I had never felt before. The arrow was truly happy. It really wanted to fly.
That was a week or two ago. But this only hit me yesterday: This is one of the missing pieces I've been looking for: active giving. Giving isn't just throwing something over the wall (as we used to say in the business world). It's about simply extending yourself towards the target, because that's what you have to do to really and truly give.
One of my friends in the Mystery School, in a comment to my last post, asked whether magic might be part of the answer I'm looking for. (That's the performance of magic, not hoping that some occult ritual will relieve my suffering.) The most interesting thing about that question was that my immediate reaction was not negation, but silence: the question stopped my thought process. Years ago, I had a thought that maybe magic might enable me to give something back to the MS community, but it had never occurred to me that it might be a path out of darkness. This, I've got to think about some more... It is a very intriguing suggestion...
But the challenge is the same whether it's performing magic or writing music; and I think the immediate challenge to me, here and now, is to start living and sharing the gifts of MS--not preaching, as such, but through active giving, simply extending myself towards the target.
Because there are gifts of MS that are worth sharing, and it would be an even greater gifts if they could be shared--and learned-- without stripping myelin, or whatever else this disease is doing.
And now, back to writing music. Currently, I need to complete a setting of one of the penitential psalms: "Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord. Lord: Hear my voice." I'm writing it for high-school students who will be performing it at a local church for a Lenten concert.
And my challenge is to write something that will catalyze their own active giving; not to help them proselytize, but to enable them to extend themselves through their singing to create... dare I say... magic?