Tag Archives: discourse

The Aesthetics of Gracious Plenty 

The custom of tipping service providers is arguably ancient, regardless of geographic location. Yesterday I was reminded of a cherished regional idiom: Gracious Plenty. Depending on whom you consult, the term in the United States is Southern, culinary, anachronistic (18th Century,) and of course Religious which is somewhat synonymous with Christian -(excuse the Yankees for their decadence we presume?) 

My first client of the day left my tip in an envelope when her session was finished. She wrote my name on the envelope and a personal thank you for what she appreciated about the session. I was humbled. I’ve had some adversity & I’ve struggled with it for quite some time. Arguably it has affected the quality and substance of my work, so to receive praise in addition to a 20% tip was the equivalent of a ray of light in the aftermath of a devestating storm. 

Shortly after resetting my room and a timely break, my co-worker Malia popped in the breakroom and asked if she had left me a tip. I saw no reason to question her question and immediately said “Yes, she left me cash.” Malia asked how much she left and again I saw no reason to think twice and answered honestly “Twenty. Why?” Malia looked puzzled and replied “She didn’t leave me anything.” I showed her my gratuity envelope. It had been sealed, addressed to me with a personal note written on the outside. Without hesitation I asked her “Do you want ten?” And had she said yes, I certainly WOULD have given it to her with no second thought. But Malia said “No. It’s alright. I wonder if I overlooked one in my own room?” And she left to check. 

I immediately said to another co-worker “Ooohh! This is my next blog post!” 

That was three days ago. If Malia found a tip she didn’t say anything. And since I’ve just found out I’m moving I haven’t thought beyond making time to write this post to ask her. 

What is Gracious Plenty? 

The client in question was a very thoughtful and down to earth lady. I work for a smaller spa franchise now and it’s not a hotel. The tip in the envelope addressed to me is within reasonable limits of what the majority of massage therapists and estheticians receive per one hour service on average. A twenty dollar tip has been the industry standard for the entire twenty years I’ve been a massage therapist. I have gotten tips larger than this. I’ve been with my current employer less than two months and already received a larger tip. But what about Gracious Plenty? Whom decides what the ethical response is? 

Gracious Plenty is a concept derived from Axiology. Axiology has a REFLEXIVE COMPONENT. Therefore the question of wether or not to “tip share,”and share the tip, does necessitate an UNSPOKEN UNDERLYING ETHICAL UNITY. However the premise or idea of observer bias can always be derided as a Postmodern”Loop Hole” and not JUST a metaphysical ILLUSION- value judgments CAN BE made with the wrong presumption in mind. 

It can be argued that the chain of casuality began with the client. Her choices presented Malia and I with an ethical quandry. It also allowed Malia and I to exercise our own understanding of what A “Gracious Plenty” means. 

Regardless of our individual choices, Malia and I reached a decision that seems not to have damaged our daily interactions. We still work as a team. We still assist each other and our colleagues in daily tasks and chores. I still put esthetics laundry in the wash and dryer. Malia still makes certain that her clients receive their robe, wrap and slippers before I pick them up for their next service. 

I am certain Malia does a wonderful job for her clients. And I am humbled that the guest in question overlooked her. Presumably her mind was on the last thing she experienced when checking out: the massage she received from me. But Malia ALSO attended to her requests before the client got on my massage table. Neither Malia nor I will ever know the actual impact of the facial Malia provided for this particular guest. What we do know is that the practice and experience of Graciousness is truly an internal one. The presence of Graciousness calls on each to take note: Someone has turned on the stage lighting.  

The Aesthetics of Gracious Plenty: Part Two http://wp.me/pVYGl-1su 

Beauty is power: A smile is it’s sword. – John Ray 

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Repeal and Replace: “We’re doing THE DEMOCRATS a service.”

Like many of us around the world, I’m watching President elect Trumps press conference. Am I the only one staggering over the idealism in play? Apparently not: this news conference is being held in part over stock market fluctuations related to some of his comments. I’m not ready to speak to what I’m hearing point by point, but I stand by the insight and measured appraisal of my fellow citizens that this man may prove to be the best choice for America and the global economy right now.

It’s an exciting time for me, to be starting a new semester-quarter working toward my paralegal with Trump heading into office. I’ve had and continue to have, personal baggage that is worthy of grief, bitterness and THERAPY. I’m almost confused by the combination of reality and motivation Trump seems to clarify for me, simply by being HIMSELF. I realize that many people around the world find him to be out of sync with his fellow human beings. The degree of his deviations from what many DO CALL idealism, obscures difference about natural philosophy and definitions of idealism generally. Folks, this is THE BIG STUFF…My eyes truly are wide as flying saucers and I’ve not felt so comfortable IN HISTORY as I do now. I’ve been uncomfortable for OVER TEN YEARS. I’m not comfortable now but I’m a bit more comfortable than I’ve been which is an improvement. Wiggle Room! 

I am holding back an opinion for the interim about idealism. Here’s why: For any conscious actor, any individual, seeking to erect universal standards applicable for human beings IN ADDITION TOO oneself, dualism is the most insidious counterpoint. Dualism itself includes double standards by default. At LEAST TWO SETS OF BOOKS: AXIOLOGY.

Since I’m my first and only student, this is MY QUESTION: At what point is AXIOLOGY REFLEXIVE? My question for others, is at what point, does the question two paragraphs above depart FROM “Both-And” and become an equivocation fallacy that creates a separate “peace,” politely speaking?

Ideology is suspected of solipsism around the world logically. Given this, what am I, what are we, how are YOU DEAR READER, categorizing and allocating VALUE?

Absolute Values: Professionalism and Manifestations of Individualism

haiku-nyt

This is the first post of a four part series on professional development. The series will utilize the terms Massage Therapist, Masseur and Masseuse as a touchstone.

Massage Therapy is a growing field of professional endeavor. As the last fifteen years have demonstrated, the creation of civic, secular infrastructure to consolidate and incorporate the profession, as a professional body has been implemented.

As the process of civic, social and economic integration and incorporation has progressed for the massage profession, questions about manifestations of individualism and professionalism arise and are discussed more openly than ever before.

One of the most commonly occurring examples of individual expression among both clients and less often among LMT’s is linguistic. It is often floated in the form of a question: Massage Therapist, Masseur or Masseuse? Underlying this question is the concept of Wholeness. If wholeness is a product that professional massage facilitates it is worthwhile to note that culture, where the right to our own and our client’s privacy finds it’s reason for being,  and civilization, which is presumed to facilitate and protect this freedom, and our professional means of making a living are distinct from one another; i.e., culture is a human endeavor and civilization is a non-living by product of the former. Part of professionalism for LMT’s necessitates that as a profession we acknowledge this from time to time. Not only for ourselves as a body of professionals, or privately with our friends and family but also for the benefit of the public good.

The term “Massage Therapist” is the linguistic term with AAA credit ranking in professional LMT circles for a reason. This is a term that denotes a respect and acknowledgement of both diversity and the right to privacy that the ‘young’ amongst us, regardless of age are afforded by their elders as a protection while they undergo professional embryonic development. This deployment of terminology by general consensus is not intended to be a weapon of fascism to stunt growth or stifle creativity or silence self expression.

Within academia, the “organic” model of cultural axiology has been challenged by political scientists, sociologists, historians and economists as essentialist since at least the 1970’s. In a bait and switch that even Freud and Sophocles might recognize, some decades prior to the emergence of the term essentialism, the term “post modern” was coined and since then has been used to describe and isolate everything from art, “anti-intellectualism,” religious movements new and old, violence and terrorism for many of the same reasons. This led to a decline in philosophical focus on aesthetics and since the advent of axiology’s emergence in the late 1800’s, it has been routinely relegated to the three ring circus of identity politics at one end and derided as having contributed to eugenics movements at the other. Less frequently published  in the professional massage community and far more popular are commentaries that frame manifestations of individualism in professional or civic contexts as a dialectic of “free will” vs. “determinism” of various sorts. Unfortunately, the absence of sustained dialogue in the massage profession about philosophy and role of dialectic in general in education and professional development has only served to reinforce the critical views cited above. Criticism of the individual begins with the collective. But as individualism sees only a part of the being, collectivism understands or sees the being as a part. This is syncretism on one hand and solipsism on the other. The latter is a logic based criticism and the former is both an aesthetic insight and a religious objection.  What then of wholeness and holism? What is the ground of being beneath our profession? That many of these views have been noted by scholars post September 11th 2001 as not only reactionary and derivative of conspiracy thinking but also as regressive is a matter of public record.

Richard Hofstadter in his classic work, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (Hofstadter 1952) cites an example of anti-intellectualism when describing the “post-Sputnik furor over American education.” He draws an example from California that had been ‘experimenting’ with curriculum. The new curriculum was criticized for “academic pettiness and snobbery.” The rebuttal of the reformers went on to state: “other goals of education such as preparation for citizenship, occupational competence, successful family life, self-realization in ethical, moral aesthetic and spiritual dimensions and the enjoyment of physical health.” Those who criticized this novel approach paused to note that one of the most complimented features of American education of the past was: “the attempt to avoid a highly rigid system of education. To do so does not mean that academic competence is not regarded as highly important to any society but it does recognize that historically, education systems which stress absorption of accumulated knowledge for it’s own sake have tended to produce decadence. Those who would “fix” the curriculum and freeze educational purpose misunderstand the unique function of education – in American democracy.”

While it is often disquieting for many LMT’s when encountering the terms “Masseur or Masseuse”, it is worthwhile to note that these terms denote one of three things about the LMT when choosing a professional designation.

  • biological sex
  • gender identity

Or in the case of clients

  • gender preference

The English language does not play dice with gender beyond the limit of semiotics. English does not string along gender and definite articles denoting gender as do other languages. For this reason, English in some circles of thought (both domestic and foreign) is presumed rightly or wrongly, to force gender assignment onto the senses by facilitating direct observation and experience. So to speak, facts are facts are they not?

Without delving into how language and semiotics are celebrated and criticized often for the same reasons as those cited above, manifestations of individualism in a professional context still retain and are often coupled with culture based ethical value assignments made by individuals. When the LMT choir sings or repeatedly chants the mantra “Massage Therapist” note the historical age in which we find ourselves. Note the models of culture criticized above and pause to note that a vocation is not a profession regardless of what Wikipedia says or whom they quote.

  • A vocation is a calling.
  • A profession is a structured venue intended to facilitate the process of making a living within the parameters of ethics and axiology.

Professional massage therapy is truly in its infancy. It is less than 150 years old. We have yet to come “a long way baby.”