“Desperate cat!” That’s what I thought when I looked out and saw that the cute white cat had opted for sitting up on the wall near the ripe plantain that I had put out for the birds.
The birds had come out in their numbers to eat. A fresh batch hatched recently, so the older ones are out showing the younger ones how to survive. I have seen the cat jump into the air to catch a bird then did a somersault and landed on its feet with poise. Quite a show. Sometimes it would get one, but most of the times the birds outsmart it.
Maybe I should be chided for putting food for the birds when I know that the cat would launch an attack. Actually, my children and I had conversation on the matter. I stopped putting stuff. The birds would come and have rather loud discourses about the missing food. They were basically asking for a choice. “You put out the food and let us decide if it is too risky to fly down and get it.” Alright then!
Of course, there are the ones who take no risk at all, they would stay up on the wire or in the tree and let another bring food for it. It is one of the luxuries afforded all of us from time to time.
And the point is? Massage marketing. There are many opportunities for us to practice our trade, yet few of us do to the point of success. How is that? The reasons are as many as the moods we have, and more.
For starters, we may have another source of income. I am not the only one feeding birds in my community. Apart from the bounty that nature has provided, there are other options. When the cat shows up, they go somewhere else, and return at their leisure. Many times we do not put the necessary effort into marketing because we are fairly comfortable with where we are at.
Of course there are those rather interesting reasons like: I don’t know why I don’t feel to do anything. I’m not in the mood today. I have to get a massage table first. I have to get some business card first. I don’t have a place yet. I’m still looking for a place. Reasons…are…infinite. One justification easily replaces another.
Is it pride? Pride does not go without insecurity. Are we uncomfortable with the service we provide? Yesterday I looked out my kitchen window and saw a man with a food basket in his hand. A strange sight in this area. With him were three young ladies (at various stages of adolescence) and a boy (his children I presumed). They all had something in hand; from a platter with pone, to a bucket with stuff to replenish, more baskets. The girls looked like the wanted to die. I smiled. Pride is a thing to make a personal study of.
I later went downstairs to get the empty bird container and turn off the pipe that someone had left running. And I heard a greeting. And I looked to see the family at the gate. They were returning from their trip down the street. The little boy enquired whether I was interested in any of their snacks. One of the girls held out the platter with the pone. The father told me that the pone had sweet potato in addition to the usual ingredients. Remarkable. The presentation was excellent. There was no reason why they should not be enthusiastic about selling quality snacks.
I made eye contact each child, and encouraged them to say what it is that they had to offer. A comfortable space was created. Smiles emerged, and confidence. As one spoke, the others anticipated their turn at telling me about the products in their hands. Good. I told them I had to go upstairs for some money, but I will be right back.
I wanted to die as I walked up the steps. I was very conscious of their eyes taking me up and bringing me back down. I tend to have my own carnival every now and then. Yesterday was one of those days. So I was wearing an inch of a pants and a piece of top. And while anything goes in these days and times, that other (hypocritical) side of me would have liked to set a better example.
True, I am rather laid back now compared to the days when I was aggressively marketing massage. And even in those days, there were times when nothing would come of my efforts and I would lie on my massage table crying. I could not understand how, if something was for me, I was not getting it. Every now and then I think the Gods are touched by a show of emotion…frustrated, tear-drenched, prayers.
I had to do like those birds. I had to recognise that timing is everything. EVERYTHING. The many hits and misses were (still are) part of my training. I would have loved to be assured that each flyer or business card would yield a client. Each massage pep-talk would fall on a listening ear. Each massage treatment would be valued for all that it embodied. Wish! Wish! Wish!
Come on, we have the Gods to entertain. They want to sit back and see a few cats somersaulting while trying to catch us (knowing full well that some of us will be snatched out of the sky). They want to see how we have developed speed in swooping down to get our opportunity and actually making off with it. They want to see how we keep opportunities to ourselves or how we share them with others.
I have no illusion that each of my students will have a massage practice buzzing with patrons. There are those of you who know that the class was an excuse…a plausible reason…for us to meet. It had little, or nothing to do with massage. One way or another, I am saying that wherever we are on the massage curve, let us remember to pick our battles. And, let us try to hang out with persons who are fighting the same battle, so that there is mutual support.
If you are good at creating opportunities, do your thing. Create. If you are one who can only function with a group around you, do your thing. Please, function! If you are one for sitting and waiting for opportunities to be placed in your mouth, do your thing. Just ensure it is properly timed. Things tend to fall out of the mouth during those exchanges.
Our desire for a functioning Massage Association is often bias. The Association is supposed to do all the marketing and we are just supposed to show up to do the massage.
“Base to Number Two, come in.”
“Number Two to base, send.”
“Yes Number Two, when you’re finished with that customer, please go over to Ms. Rollins in Lyndon Street. That’s a half-hour deep tissue.”
“Roger that, but I’m stopping for lunch after this one. No other Therapist in the vicinity?”
“Yes. We have Number Three over the Highway, he should be able to do the job.”
Welcome to Massage Heaven. This is a sure way to have our days full of practice and our pockets full of money. Back down here on Earth, I think an Association should be more like a bring-and-buy sale. We pool our resources, and we associate with each other. And automatically we lose our insecurities… And we mature, as a therapist, and as a person.
It is still the top of the year. There is marketing, and there is marketing planning. We can put pen to paper and honestly state what it is we hope to accomplish in the realm of massage, who we hope to obtain help from in accomplishing our goals, and who we hope to help in accomplishing their goals. Unless they are now making coins with one side, we have to always consider ourselves, and others.
We have all been down that road where we thought it was best to operate solo because of this and because of that. But, we all need each other. So if we don’t get down to choosing our partners, our partners will be chosen for us. No point complaining. The game must go on. Like it or not.
And in choosing, remember not to judge by appearances. Be inspired. Someone who seems to have it all figured, may be the worst psychic vampire you ever met. On the other hand, someone who does not look too promising may be the one to prevent a cat from snuffing your life out.
And while the Gods might be entertaining themselves the whole time we seem to be catching our tails, let us remember to give them their due, and entreat their favour. Someday, we never know when, they just might remove the cat that hovers around our food.