It’s been two years since I started practicing Tai Chi Chuan at the Chinese Culture Center with Master Charles Lin. Now at age 45, I’ve got my life back. A couple of years ago I was going downhill fast, and I felt and acted like I was seventy years old. It began years earlier when I suffered a freak accident and sustained a severe foot injury. I fell from about twelve feet, severely fracturing my left ankle.
At first I saw the conventional western doctors, (orthopedic surgeons), and was told there wouldn’t be much they could do for me. I was beginning to experience constant severe pain whenever I was on my feet for more than a short time. I had a limited range of motion in the joint and no amount of stretching could loosen it. The orthopedic surgeons suggested fusion of the joint, at first, then later settling on the recommendation for a complete ankle replacement. I did my homework only to find out that the prosthetic ankle was indicated for the elderly and sedentary. I really began to feel old, but I can’t describe the psychological devastation it was beginning to have on me. I had previously enjoyed an active lifestyle of sports and adventure that few are privileged to experience. I traveled to places like New Zealand, Alaska, Italy, France and more, climbing mountains. I sailed and cycled regularly, skied and coached competitive soccer. These activities soon became unthinkable; even a little cycling would put me in bed for a day or two with severe pain.
I looked into alternative therapies and underwent countless sessions of Rolfing, Massage and Acupuncture. It would seem like I’d have some improvement only to slip back into the pain upon resumption of moderate activities. I was frustrated I couldn’t realize any lasting healing. I have a busy dental practice, and it was getting hard for me to keep up with the work demands. On top of that, I was letting family and home demands slip and began fearing that my life would begin unraveling.
This was the point when I decided to try Tai Chi with Master Charles Lin. I observed a class and saw there were students from age 25 to 65, with a greater range of physical strengths and abilities. I observed that Master Lin was demanding of his students and yet tailored those demands to the ability of each individual student. I experienced a place where honest effort would be expected, and yet I could relax enough to open up and begin the healing my body needed. The mark of a good teacher is his/her ability to be in tune with each student and know how much he can get out of the student; what is appropriate versus what is too much. Like any good teacher, I get the sense he is in tune to what his students are capable of. He is endowed with ample patience and is very approachable unlike so many who hold similar titles as his.
Well, it’s been two years, and my ankle has improved significantly. I’ve got most of the flexibility back, and it’s getting continually stronger. The difference between the good one and the injured ankle is growing smaller each week. I’m back cycling; I walk a couple of miles a day, and I’ve begun a Kung Fu form. But the healing hasn’t stopped, and now for once, I’m optimistic that again I’ll have a life free of physical limitations. I have a deeply heartfelt gratitude to Charles Lin and the Tai Chi he has taught me.