Be willing to do the work
I started seeing this new massage therapist. On my first visit, he told me, “Therapeutic massage isn’t really my thing. I do trigger point therapy; I work a lot with injuries and chronic pain. People don’t come to me for relaxation. They come to me to get work done.”
“Super,” I said. Time’s up now, buddy, I silently told the vicious knot that’s lurked under my shoulder blade for as long as I can remember. It just glared back at me, squatting and braced, arms folded more tightly than usual.
And then came the most intense, hardcore, crazy-painful-in-a-good-way massage of my life.
Afterwards, the therapist asked me how I felt.
“Totally beat up,” I said. “In the best possible way.”
“You had a lot of old stuff hanging out in your hips that I think we made a dent in,” he said. “But that knot under your shoulder just laughed at me. I couldn’t get into that one.”
“That doesn’t surprise me,” I answered. “Maybe next time.” And we scheduled another session.
On our next visit, he checked my hips and said, “Wow. Given what we had to work through last time, I can’t believe how little of that has come back. Your body must really be ready to heal.”
“I sure hope so,” I said, and we fell into an amiable silence.
“So you don’t do relaxing massages?” I asked after awhile, as per the standard semi-awkward smalltalk you need to make when your body is spilling all your muscle-secrets to someone you barely know.
“Well, I do sometimes,” he admitted. “There are some days when trigger point is too mentally intense, and I’ll have a client come in and say ‘I just can’t deal today.’ And I get that. So then we have a nice massage with soft music and hot stones, because that’s what they need that day. But most of my clients have long-term issues, and a massage like that is fine in the moment and everything, but what’s the point if the pain is back again in a couple days?”
“I’ve had both types of massage at different times,” I said. “But I think now I’m willing to do the work.”
That session, the shoulder knot did let him in– grudgingly, and not all the way, but it’s a start.
There are moments for all of us when when we’re presented with the choice to try or not try. Are we willing to do the work? Or are we accepting platitudes that day instead?
The answers to these questions define us.
There’s nothing wrong with having a curl-up-on-the-couch-and-binge-watch-Netflix kind of day. (I had one this weekend.) But at some point, you need to get up, shower, and put your ass-kicking boots back on.
When you choose to not try at every opportunity, you’re only surface-skimming through life. Stones skipping across the water are very pretty, but they require perfectly calm surfaces. And I don’t know about you, but my day-to-day is just about the furthest thing away from perfectly calm.
Get out of your goldfish bowl. Find a cheerful, chuckly little brook instead, roll your sleeves up, and get down to business.
Haul up big, uneven stones completely unsuitable for skipping, and thunk ’em down to force new rivulets and tributaries instead. Drop down in the mud and get your hands dirty damming up offshoots. Plot your course to parts unknown. Blaze your own trail.
How would your life’s landscape change if you were willing to do the work?