In the first trimester of my massage school, Mark Caffarel, the former car mechanic turned massage therapy instructor, mentioned Esalen as a magical place full of long strokes intermingled with the sounds of waves. That sounded pretty good to me as I labored through the conservative, stifling and rigorous 1,000-hour syllabus at the Desert Institute of the Healing Arts.
The year was 2000. I kept my bodywork schedule in a paper calendar and took my calls for appointments over a Nokia flip phone. I was living on the top floor of a charming bungalow on a hill near the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado.
My lifestyle was quite active: trail running up Mount Sanitas; lifting weights at Rally Sport; and skiing at Eldora. Even though I was just 26, my body was beginning to talk back when I pushed it too far. And for the first time, concepts like “low back pain” and “sciatica” weren’t abstract ideas that I read about in Travell’s Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction and treated, but discomforts which I was beginning to uncomfortably embody.