I wish the world could see the way I see, sometimes. Not all the time. Not really. Not literally. Yet I do wish the world could see as I do, or at least see one another.
Because I don’t see through my eyes. I see through my ears, my hands, my nose and my heart. Largely through my hands.
I became a massage therapist in 2013, though I decided that I wanted to be one in early 2008 or so. It took me awhile to get my backside in gear, and then it took me much longer to get through the program.
Because I also became blind in 2002. At least, that was the most recent time. Another story for another day, that.
My name is Jennifer, though many know me as Jenny, and I am a blind massage therapist.
Are you one of those people who secretly wants to try massage, or go more often, but you keep feeling like the person working with you is going to be making judgements on your health, your physical fitness, the garlic on your breath, your degree of body hair, or really anything? Trust me, we are not. I am not. Granted, yes, that is in part because I can’t see you, but most of us don’t.
But I’m here to talk about myself, and what I see. My hands are my eyes at work, and I see much, much better with them than you do with your eyes. A hand placed lightly on your back instantly tells me that there’s tension here, that this rib is misaligned with it’s connecting vertebra, that you tend to hunch your shoulders up towards your ears when you feel anxious and that you spend way too much time with your head bowed forward.
I have “seen” many things in the course of my job. But with few exceptions, I do not see anyone who isn’t beautiful. Your body is a temple. After all, even those who don’t follow a religion can admit that that Tibetan monastery or this ancient cathedral is beautiful. You are a work of art. You are a perfectly balanced column of sums. That muscle working to pull your arm up is counter-balanced with another one that is already tensing up to keep your arm from falling back the moment you stop lifting that cup to your lips.
You are a finely calibrated system of levers and pulleys working in concert to move you through life. You are a billion billion cells, each performing its specialized task, working with one another.
You are an intricate tapestry, each experience serving as just one thread that weaves together with the others to form a picture. I can read the surface of that tapestry like Braille to find the places where things are getting a bit tangled. Should you be one of those that likes to talk, the things you say or don’t say add a second layer. If you’re silent, as many are, than sometimes something as little as a catch of breath can tell me volumes.And that tapestry is beautiful.
And you are beautiful.
Not perfect, no. Perfection wouldn’t need my elbow in just the right place to work the kinks out, but perfection isn’t beauty. Perfection is a cold, sterile thing, and true beauty requires nuance and subtle flaws that somehow enhance the whole.
Perhaps you came in wearing sweatpants and an old, worn t-shirt. That doesn’t make you less lovely. I can’t see them anyway.
Perhaps you have more bulk in areas than you think you should, or perhaps you have less than you want. That also doesn’t matter. You are still beautiful.
The only ones who ever seem ugly to me are those I witness treating my coworkers, or treating myself, with contempt. And even then, I’m sure that if I looked hard enough I’d still find some beauty. But I’m not perfect, either, so sometimes I don’t look.
If I had the superpower to teach the world the lesson I think is the most important, this is what it would be. See the beauty in yourself, and then turn that vision onto the rest of the world, too. Close your eyes, and see with your hands, your ears, and your heart. That is where you’re going to find the true beauty.
Oh. And get more massages. You deserve it. Also drink more water, okay?