My Dad was recently talking to me about leaders. He spoke of people who like a certain role and assume it, people who are prompted by other people to assume a certain role, and people who are assigned to a certain role by their Creator. It was a lengthy conversation. As we were sharing I was having a flashback of a university debate on whether leaders are born or made. Both sides did a good job defending their statements, and my conclusion was the old adage: practice makes perfect. If you are trusted into a leadership position often enough, you become good at what you do. I think of a Massage Therapist as a leader in some regards because clients often look to us to say and/or do what is best for them. We get to be their confidants, advisers, and decision makers, all aspects of leadership.
Using Dad’s classifications, as Therapists some of us see others doing massage and it looks like easy money, so we enthusiastically jump in to get our piece of the pie. When it ceases to bring us the desired rewards, we drop it by the wayside; which is all good and fine as there is a time for everything. Then there are those of us who have been told over and over that we have gifted hands and we decided that we should venture out, hesitantly, and do massage with those hands. Extrinsic motivation plays an important part in sustaining our practice until we begin to believe within ourselves that we really have it. And of course, there are those of us who know that who we are and the gifts we have are associated with Spirit and we place our confidence accordingly and the laying on of our hands on another person is never limited to the secular definition of massage. Does this mean that Massage Therapists are born rather than made?
Though not as frequently as before, I still am on the road at 5am doing Tai Chi in the mornings. One day I was on my way to the Croisee when the taxi driver asked what is exercise he sees me doing in the mornings. I said: Tai Chi. He nodded. Then he intimated that one morning he had stopped and observed me for a while and when he got home he attempted to do some of what I was doing. I asked how it went. He swore it was difficult. I laughed. And worst of all, when he was done with the few postures he had retained, he felt as if someone had given him a good beating. His body was in pain. Naturally. If you climb through a window you will gain access to the house just like the man who went through the door, but you will also bare in your body evidence of your mode of entrance.
I’m not sure what response he had expected, but I laughed to my heart’s content. Jesus spoke of people who enter the door while others opt for the window. You do not wake up and decide that you will engage in another man’s practice because he seems successful at, or because of it. Especially spiritual practices. And while Tai Chi is being bandied about like Yoga and other spiritual forms in the name of ‘fitness’ it is more than a fitness routine. He then asked if I would be willing to take him through some of the postures a few mornings each week. I told him I would consider such. It is good that he is making intention to enter the door. I never went looking for Tai Chi, it found me. My Teacher comes from a long line of Chinese Masters and was taught by his uncle who was a Shaolin Monk. As lofty as his lineage is, he draws no attention to himself. You would pass him easily in the streets. Without charging me a cent, he was used to allow me access through the door. I have discussed the taxi driver with him and he has permitted me to work with him if I so desire. The opportunity has not arisen to facilitate such.
Like Tai Chi, Massage is one of many healing modalities in which climbing through the window may result in us soon cutting our losses and switching gears. Why not let it find us? And that finding occurs when something inside of us magnetizes the complementary components on the outside of us. Over time we notice people want us to touch them. We may not think much of it, but eventually the little rub here and there starts adding up and the compliments start falling all over the place and a picture of possibilities begins to take shape in our minds. And even as the picture emerges, it is often shadowed by self-doubt, but as our practice becomes perfect so does our confidence and we are able to see that we had it in us all along. So that while Dad may be right in defining different sets of leaders, I would say the sets intersect, especially groups two and three. To me they are the same person at different stages of their development, as in the case of Neo (possibly an abbreviation of ‘Neophyte’) in The Matrix when he moved from being told he is The One, to acting like it.
A man’s gift is supposed to make provision for him, so there are fees attached to our massages. While not the only form of exchange, money is a very convenient means of exchange. The nice part is that the spirit realm that supports our physical work is not bothered by whether we charge a penny or a million dollars, just as long as there is an exchange…yin and yang. The balance of giving and receiving must be kept. In the beginning God created Man/Yang…and saw that it was not good for him to be alone. He added Woman/Yin. Over in the Islamic Scriptures it says: And We created everything in pairs… The Talmud backs that up with Elohim being plural. Yet who is God, and who is We remains an ongoing debate, but it should not make our spirits sour. I’m doing a slow Damballa dance in my chair as I type. Which makes perfect sense given I’m writing about Yin/Yang. The cute part is that I’m dancing to Colonial Cousins: Krishna Nee Bega Baro. Hmmm. When last you heard that?
Anyway, the duality principle stands. For the provision of our service we are rewarded, and we are allowed to say how we prefer to be rewarded as we know the nature of our needs and how appropriately they would be met with the reward…which is why we should refrain from criticizing each other’s price tags. One Therapist may choose to service four clients per day at $150 each…exhausting, while another with more important things to do (like sleep) may choose to do two massages at $300 each. Most importantly, the exchange is made.
So it is my conclusion that Massage Therapists are born, because knowledge is in the blood; just like disease travels through bloodlines and pops up in at least one person in each generation, so too does Massage. Somewhere in our history is the story of a relative who did what we are doing (and more, given that we are quite an easily-exhausted breed) and the mantle has dropped on our lap and it is now our path to walk. Thankfully, we don’t have to know everything about the mantle to carry it. We are allowed to figure it out as we go along so that it serves as a tool in self-knowledge. And since practice makes perfect, I would have to also admit that it is possible for Massage Therapists to be made. Many who have the gift don’t want it, and those without it make great effort to have it. Diligence is rewarded. God has been known to show mercy on whom He chooses to show mercy. After all, it is Spirit that giveth gifts…bloodline or not.