by Mickey Cail
with Joshua M. Sklare

Mickey Cail chose You Will Survive as the title for his book because that is what he wants people to focus on when they find themselves in the unfortunate circumstance of fighting for their life. Not only is this not a book about illness, it is also not a book about nearly dying. It is very much a book about life, about the love of life and a desire to live it. And it is a book about healing.

Tai Chi is one of the reasons I am still strong and agile at ninety-three, and hope to be so for as long as possible. How did I become such a huge proponent of Tai Chi? It all started many years ago. Like many middle-aged people, I was a guy with back problems in desperate need of help. If you have had back problems you know what I mean, whether the pain is sharp as a stiletto or more the constant dullness of a butter knife, you just want to get rid of it.

I tried all kinds of traditional medical remedies, took plenty of medicine and saw plenty of orthopedists, but all to no avail. Remember my friend Win Arias, the great doctor I mentioned earlier? Well, I had been telling him about my back problems and picking his medical brain, just as I did when I was trying to figure out what to do about the cancer. Win Arias is big on Tai Chi, so he said, “Hey Mickey, why don’t you give Tai Chi a shot?” So I figured what the heck, I’ll try it. But how was I to go about it? His wife Lyuba, another brilliant doctor, with whom I had discussed the cancerous growth, suggested that I find an expert in Tai Chi. With her help, I found an Israeli man who had written a book on the subject and was just phenomenal; I really could not have had a better Tai Chi teacher or mentor. I began seeing him on a weekly basis, and after a seven-year span of intense work, I felt I knew enough that I could actually do it by myself, and even teach other people—and I have.

A noncompetitive activity, Tai Chi is often practiced in groups and can be a wonderful way to socialize, but you can also do it alone if that works best for you. The beautiful thing about Tai Chi is that you don’t need much in the way of equipment or even space. You don’t need to join a gym. You can just use what you have at home, like a bed, a sofa or chair, or even the ground. Once you learn how to do it, it won’t cost you a dime. You might have guessed that Tai Chi originated in China. What you might not have known is that what began as an ancient martial art developed in two other directions: into an approach for stretching and lubricating your muscles, increasing your flexibility and physical well-being; and into a meditation to help you gain a sense of inner harmony. This works well with my overall emphasis on positive living. Don’t knock inner harmony. Once you start to feel that peace and relaxation, you will wonder where it has been all your life. Of course, don’t forget that, though Tai Chi is a system of gentle exercise that is appropriate for those of us who are getting older, it is also one heck of a good workout. Just as bridge helps exercise the mind, so Tai Chi exercises the body. Further, what’s good for the body is also good for the mind! So remember the Mickey mantra, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”


Montefiore Press