Many of you have read my first book, Table Lessons. In it, I describe many encounters with clients and the clinical reasoning and lessons learned with each encounter. I have been thinking about that lately, but in a much different manner.
I was in the clinic before I wrote this post and my last client is someone I have treated for many years. In fact, I first saw him in 1982. That Saturday so many years ago, he called when I was just about to leave the office and asked if I would stay later than planned to help him with his back pain. I said yes to him and to extending my day beyond my allotted hours. What followed was a 35 year relationship in which I have had the privilege of being a significant part of his life, helping a very busy person feel his best. While we have no relationship outside the clinic, I consider our connection to be deep and vast; we have shared much of life's twists and turns over the years. This relationship all hinged on one moment, me saying yes to staying a little longer that day and seeing one more person.
Life is filled with defining moments like that, moments where the road ahead can turn in a completely different direction. While there are many examples of life pivoting on a fateful decision, I am thinking about these defining moments in a different way.
The wind that carries the maple seed (often called a whirlybird) has no knowledge of the maple tree that, in forty years, will reach for the sky. Or that two young people, seeking shade under that tree, will cement a bond that will last a lifetime. Or produce a child who will one day bring her children to sit under that tree. The wind has no knowledge of what is to come. It blows because it is the wind; knowing nothing of the stories in which the maple tree will play a major role. In the same way, actions we undertake now have implications for events in the future. We cannot know the substance and circumstance of these future events, but we do know that they will indeed unfold.
When I am teaching one of the PNMT seminars and look at the therapists in attendance, I often feel that it isn't the faces of the therapists I see but the faces of the future clients of these therapists. There is a future client, who will call four years from now complaining of significant pain in his mid-back which no health care provider has been able to address. Whether the therapist at the seminar fully understands the reasoning and can successfully execute the work will significantly impact the outcome for his client four years from now. The seeds we plant now do not come to full fruition until much later, sometimes days, often years. The choices we make now play a role in our present story, but the most powerful story is the one not yet written.
This is also why I study, reading at least some piece of research or educational literature every day. I do this in part to learn how to better help a client I am seeing presently, but more often to prepare for the client I have not yet seen, a "Table Lesson" of which I will be a part of at some future date. When that that moment comes, the moment where whether I help or not is dependent on prior preparation, I want to be fully present and ready to serve. The time for preparation is not when the curtain is being pulled back from the stage; it is long before then. For me personally, this discipline and focus adds to the richness of every moment. Being fully and completely engaged in the present sets the stage for a fulfilling and satisfying future as well. The fullness of the present, without an eye to the future, creates the future.