I read a book.
I earned a degree.
I appreciated a song.
I watched a movie.
I shared an idea.
I got a burger at Wendy’s.
I got a parking ticket.
I got a migraine.
I got a massage.
Maybe it’s just a little thing, but how did massage come to be spoken of as a passive activity, something that just appears in our lives, occurs without our interference, and then vanishes again, like an itch or a coupon? I got a gallon of milk for half off. Nice, huh?
To receive is not to give up autonomy. It’s half of an interaction. When a phone line goes bad, we say, there’s no reception. We understand that that conversation has ended, and try again later, somewhere new.
Being an active recipient of massage doesn’t mean you have to chat. It can mean focus, meditation, deep breathing. It can mean speaking up when you’re uncomfortable, or asking for what you need. Being an active recipient of massage can mean making a conscious decision to give your body into someone else’s care, allowing yourself to daydream or even sleep. But it means owning those choices, knowing that they contribute to this process that you’re engaging in with somebody else, this process called massage. It’s not something that happens. It’s not something you can get.
I don’t know what kind of language we can use to communicate this understanding. To share, to experience, to explore, to feel, to enter into … none sounds quite right. Maybe receive is the best we have right now, with its undertones of to welcome, to take part.
But whatever language we choose, let’s try to find creative ways to acknowledge that our clients are not just consumers, but partners, and save get for the flu.
Kat Mayerovitch is a licensed massage therapist and recent Midwest transplant to Dallas, Texas. She also works as a copywriter, volunteers like mad in local community development, and plays the ukulele. If you like her writing here, Kat writes more good stuff at LMT or Bust.