Lessons from the Table

young plants

If you had told me eight years ago I would have anything other than a completely professional, non-personal relationship with my clients I would have called you crazy. I can remember an instructor at Cumberland Institute saying, “You fall in love with all of your clients a little bit.” I can also remember thinking, “Not me. These are business clients, not friends.”

But the truth fell somewhere in between. My clients became my friends over time. After eight years of massage, and after seeing some clients over a hundred times, I began to realize that it was true: I did love my clients. When someone shares their stories and vulnerability with you, there is a deep sense of compassion that develops. It’s a professional hazard, I suppose, to feel drawn in to the stories and challenges of my clients.

As I prepare to leave Nashville and look back on my time here as a massage therapist, I am struck by the wisdom you have all shared with me. Your stories, tall tales, sorrows, and dreams have given me a perspective on life that I think few share. While I work, I listen, and you taught me many lessons I cherish. I want to share what you’ve taught me.

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The Over 50 Crowd Have Well-Aged Stories

(My parents find this piece of wisdom the funniest. I can’t imagine why.)

I’ll admit that before I started working in massage, the average age of the people I spent time with was around 30. Most people around 30 have lots of plans for adventures, goals, trips and accomplishments they want to make, but they haven’t had 50 years to polish those stories into gems-

I don’t think I was ever in the position to actively listen to the stories the “mature set” tells before I became a massage therapist.  Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve practiced the of their past for decades. Or, that they’ve simply learned the best delivery after telling a story twenty times. Or, maybe it’s just the fact that after so many years, you can laugh at yourself and tell stories about yourself that you might have been reticent to share 20 years earlier. I tend to think it’s more the latter than anything else.

Whatever the case, early on in my massage practice I started to relish these stories that I wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to like stories about WWII and the Korean War, tales about the Civil Rights Movement or segregation, stories about grandparents from the “old country” or flashbacks to the hippie days in the 60s.

So when someone with a few wrinkles starts to tell stories, listen up. It might be the best thing you hear all day.

Photo credit: flickr.com CCL user: bbp

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