Recently, I had a lovely conversation with a client about a picture I keep hanging in the waiting room at Muscle Memory Massage.
I found this piece of artwork at Sozo Thrift Co. in Avondale during the final days of my pre-opening decorating stint. Aside from the fact that it fits my space’s color scheme pretty well, I knew immediately I had to have it for the sake of the message it carries.
I clutched it tightly in my arm until I made it to the checkout line, all the while imagining exactly where I’d hang it…
Just as I would be interested to know what makes a devoted carpenter, programmer, or translator tick, I often have clients who express some curiosity about my decision to become a massage therapist.
Some folks fixate on their unwillingness to touch strangers’ feet; many ask about the daily physical strain on my hands and body; and a number express that they’d likely be antsy during long sessions, during which taking a break or changing tasks is not an option.
Alternately, I’ve had clients and friends remark on what a relaxing career massage therapy must sow due to the atmosphere, the calming smells, and the independence.
While these latter things truly are wonderful and the former things just don’t bother me, none are involved in the main reason I feel fulfilled and lucky doing what I do.
The sentiment I found on this simple piece of art, hiding in a secondhand store: “we’re all just walking each other home,” expresses perfectly why I’m so passionate about every session I get to be a part of.
I think it’s easy for us to forget and neglect the potential perks of unfeigned neighborly living and of trusting others without paying tribute to cynicism or our insecurities.
For the majority of us, an ideal world would likely include a sincere feeling of warmth and well-being for and from others – not unlike the nostalgic, down-home feeling that we have consigned to the past, for simpler folks in simpler times with simpler towns at their feet.
In reality, the only elements of that dreamy past that actually were simpler were the infrastructure and the technology, and this seems to be a likely reason why people needed and treasured each other.
When things are hard, it helps tremendously to have a secure sense of belonging, and we’ve largely lost avenues to access that necessary comfort due to superfluous mistrust and a habit of sinking into our fears instead of facing them and seeing what happens.
Today, we are quick to verbally recognize the concept that we’re all human, flawed, learning, and equally deserving of love and acceptance, but it often feels like we don’t really know how to live that out day-to-day.
We have these almost robotic ideas of how to prove that we’re just, fair, and welcoming people, without realizing that it’s not about us.
It’s about the other person. Seeing and hearing them. Walking them home, just as someone once walked you home and made you feel good, and loved, and safe, and cared for. It’s a type of full-body feeling, rather than something articulated or consciously performed.
Being a massage therapist allows me to have daily experiences in which I get to meet a fellow human being, care for them, and tie a thread through the community, bringing us all just a little bit closer together.
I believe in walking each other home, and in letting someone merge onto a busy street, and in telling a passerby that I love their outfit, and in being inspired by my neighbors, and in stopping to pick up something that someone else dropped, and in caring wholeheartedly for everyone I meet.
A client coming to get a massage may be non-verbally saying, “I’m in pain, please help,” or “I’m beyond stressed – I have nothing left to give,” or “I’ve been so alone; thank you for noticing me.” They may just want to relax or feel removed from the world for an hour.
Whatever the case, it shouldn’t be uncomfortable to do whatever you can to be there for another person, even if you don’t know them. It shouldn’t be an experience reserved for special occasions, nor should it be seen as saintly work. It’s no more difficult than removing all of the clutter and seeing the person standing in front of you, waiting to be walked home.
About the author: Muscle Memory Massage
I'm so excited to be opening up shop in Cahaba Heights, supporting our community with relaxation, stress relief, and pain mitigation. I lived in Cahaba Heights when I initially moved to Birmingham 4 years ago, and I felt at home for the first time in a long time. Everything from the pretty neighborhoods and beautiful flowers to Doodles and the friendly faces I came to know stuck with me. After learning a LOT in school and being sincerely surprised by the immense benefits provided by massage therapy, I knew there was no where else I'd rather bring my newfound knowledge and skills to than where my Birmingham adventures began. I love it here, and I hope you'll love me being here, as well!
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