In my early years I was mostly studying and playing music. But as I moved into my late 20’s I started to realize I didn’t want to do music for a living. I got into therapy and the therapist recommended receiving massage as a way to get to know myself better in body, mind and spirit. That really opened my eyes.
After a few years of receiving massages and appreciating so many benefits – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual – I decided I might try doing it myself. At that time I was in Chicago and, unbelievably, there was no school! So I approached each massage therapist I had seen as a client and tried to convince them to teach me what they knew!
First, of course, I needed a massage table. So I looked in the paper to see if there were any for sale and I asked around. Finally – I can’t remember exactly how – I found out about a used one for sale. So one winter day in Chicago, I hiked up four floors in a north-side apartment building to see this massage table.
It was topped with forest green vinyl and had a design I’d never seen. Thin oak legs and struts supported the table surface. The struts were like Tinker Toys and were held in place by thick pins. I was skeptical but the owner showed me actually how this was a very effective, clever way to stabilize the table. It didn’t have a “face cradle”, just a rectangular hole cut through the table toward one end in which one could rest their head when lying facedown. Well, peculiar, but ok!
I decided the time was right. I gave the owner $80 and walked out with the massage table. To this day I remember the feeling of walking down those four flights of stairs with my new table. I was like a guitarist with his first guitar in its case. Like a painter with his new palette. Like a cowboy with his first saddle.
I was filled with the feeling that here was my instrument. Here was the tool with which I could explore all this fascinating territory that lay ahead – vistas of anatomy and physiology, frontiers of healing. With this table, I could perhaps help through touch make a new kind of positive difference in the world for me and for the people I might see.
But all I really knew at the time was the feeling of excitement that was coursing through me. I was going to study massage, become a therapist. Here was my tool, really the only main tool I needed – in addition to my own hands, heart, and mind.
And now, 37 years later, I remember that moment and I can still really not find the words to capture fully how grateful I am that I began that fateful day a work and a journey that has resulted in a life that I only dreamed of then, walking down those many flights of stairs and out into the winter day in Chicago with my new massage table.