My Career Has Meaning

By Laura Collins
[Mind of an MT]

When I think of the massage profession and spa industry as a whole, a quote from author Leo Buscaglia comes to mind: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

It makes sense, doesn’t it? As massage therapists and bodyworkers, we are in a position to touch numerous lives each day. People come to us for multiple reasons. Some need an escape from their busy lives; others have ailments for which they seek relief. Many wish to celebrate a special occasion, or ache for the human connection lacking in their lives, yearning for mere touch. When you stop and think about it, we are lucky in that sense. People trust us enough to share their stories and ask for our help. That is why we do what we do.
With our knowledge, experience, and patience, we communicate with people in a physical and emotional way. We loosen tight muscles, relieve pain, and make people feel beautiful and healthy. We have the ability with our presence and compassion to ease physical and mental scars. On top of that, we also have the power to relieve emotional distress. Our presence and comforting touch can make one experience at our table stand out.
These thoughts were validated after reading Life as a Daymaker (Jodere, 2003) by hairstylist David Wagner. His inspirational story of a client who’d found comfort in his presence and decided against suicide reinforced my perspective. By going the extra mile to make one client comfortable and happy, Wagner learned he’d changed a life. No longer did the woman contemplate her demise. Instead, she decided to see the beauty in life. In meeting Wagner, this woman found a foundation of hope and security. It wasn’t until she’d written him that Wagner realized the impact he’d made.
But what if things had gone differently? What if he had just rushed through the service? What if he’d chosen not to joke and laugh with her and lighten the mood during the session? What would have transpired if he’d avoided spending that extra 15 minutes styling her hair?
And then, the ultimate quandary: If the things he’d done for her hadn’t transpired, would the positive outcome have changed? Those questions made me think about my own clientele.
What if the next person on my table is going through a battle no one knows about? Shouldn’t we always give our best? Shouldn’t clients have absolute attention and caring for the time scheduled? The world is stressful and consuming, yet we don’t have to be. A positive experience in our treatment rooms could alter a life for the better.
Wagner provides several noteworthy quotes in his book. Two stand out for me:
• “To be successful, the first thing to do is fall in love with your work.”—Sister Mary Lauretta
• “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.”—attributed to Charles Dickens
It is no secret I love what I do. Monetary compensation is not my biggest reward; response and gratitude from clients make my career worthwhile.
While we should do our best to make a client’s day joyful and relaxing, there are times when they make our day, too … even if we’re not aware of the fact. People nourish and fulfill lives. Interaction is part of the human condition. Therefore, every client can enrich our lives and vice versa. If I can touch the life of one person a day, I have done my job. There is no doubt this is what I was meant to do.
Massage therapists and bodyworkers lead busy lives, but in the treatment room, time slows. Hours are no longer measured by minutes but seconds; each one slow, steady, and comforting. One session can offer an opportunity to build a connection, make a difference, and sometimes change a life. As clients leave fulfilled, we’re physically and emotionally spent. Yet, the thought of how we’ve impacted someone should inspire us to greet each morning with optimism and readiness to keep going day after day.
My career has meaning, assists others, and provides the ultimate in satisfaction. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

Laura L. Collins, LMT, has been a massage therapist for five years. Prior to that, she worked in various positions in the medical field. Contact her at