I Believe

In 1985, I became a student at the University of Virginia. What I didn’t know before I arrived was that seemingly everyone on Grounds was listening to—and consumed by­—R.E.M. Nothing associates you to a time and place or person like music, and in the fall of 1986, it seemed like R.E.M.’s “Lifes Rich Pageant” was playing in my head constantly. That may explain my second–year grades. One of my favorite songs from that album (for younger readers: this is an album) is called “I Believe.”

When I was young and full of grace
and spirited—a rattlesnake.
When I was young and fever fell
My spirit, I will not tell
You’re on your honor not to tell


I believe in coyotes and time as an abstract
Explain the change, the difference between
What you want and what you need, there’s the key,
Your adventure for today, what do you do
Between the horns of the day?


I believe my shirt is wearing thin
And change is what I believe in

Recent events in my life (in and out of the massage world) have caused me to reflect on what I believe.

I have always believed what my mother had told me—“Things happen for a reason.” I’m starting to realize though that sometimes things just happen.

I believe the changes afoot in the massage education world (and in postsecondary education in general) are healthy, and will result in stronger programs and more viable careers for massage therapists, even if things are a bit bumpy along the way.

I believe Thomas Jefferson was right­: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

I believe there are more than two sides to the massage profession. “Health care” and “relaxation” are just two of many paths, and in some cases they aren’t different.

I believe life isn’t fair, or unfair—it just is.

I believe there is no true definition of “full-time” and “part-time” in massage and bodywork. And those who attempt to marginalize practitioners as “part-time” are missing the point.

I believe dogs love you, but cats can only like.

I believe the greatest challenge to our profession recently—and perhaps in the future—is from within.

I believe a good sandwich on the right bread can be a religious experience.

I believe regulation and professional development are different, and I would like to help several state boards and American Massage Therapy Association chapters understand this.

And as Bono said, “I believe in love.”

Follow Les on Twitter at twitter.com/abmp_les.

5 thoughts on “I Believe

  1. I believe that education standards for massa therapy programs are appallingly low.

    I believe that massage certification exams are far too easy and should include a practical portion.

    I believe that all states should have mandatory licensing for massage therapists, with reasonably reciprocity between all states.

    I believe that some bodywork methods and philosophies are outdated and should be updated to reflect the wealth of new knowledge available to us.

    I believe that the greatest impediment to the advancement of massage therapy as a 21st-century profession is philosophical inertia.

    I believe that some of us are trying to drag while the rest are kicking and screaming.

    I believe we can all do better.

  2. I do agree about REM.

    I don’t agree about cats, at all. It’s possible, though, that we define love differently, and that’s where the real disagreement is.

    As far as massage is concerned, I believe not only do we need stronger education standards, but that the length of education for entry level massage therapists needs to increase. In most states it takes more hours to become a cosmetologist. Not to denigrate cosmetologists at all–they have a lot to learn–but anyone who thinks massage therapists really need less education than cosmetologists might want to think that one through.

    What I want to know is, if the exams aren’t hard enough, why is the pass rate so low? Perhaps we aren’t teaching well enough, but I don’t think that’s it. I think in most cases the students are being required to learn material best spread out and covered over two years in a very short span of time–as few as six to nine months. Most people take time to assimilate information.

    I could probably go on for days. Suffice to say that I think the best cure for what ails us, as a profession, is higher entry level educational requirements. Who cares about clock hours if you can’t pass the test?

    Karen Hobson

    Obligatory disclaimer: I am a program director for massage therapy at a proprietary school.

  3. Dogs have people…cats have staff. (yet I feel like ‘staff’ to my Irish Wolfhound).

    I agree: standards are vastly inconsistent and in many ways, too low.

    I agree: State reciprocity should exist, once testing standards are consistent. If 1000 hours of training/school is too much, 500 is too little….let’s split the diff.

    I agree: There should be a practicum in the standard test, to balance the written.

    I believe: too many ‘franchise’ schools, tempting mediocre or worse students with false promises, are accelerating the lowering of the bar. My doctor and dentist did NOT attend a ‘franchise’ med/dental school, nor did my attorney. There IS a reason!

  4. Thanks Les, I enjoyed reading that.

    Jason, I enjoyed your comments also, especially the big typo in the same sentence where you complain about appalingly low standards. chuckle ;)

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