You’ve known you wanted to be a PT since you were 14? How was that? Shouldn’t you have been out playing ball or something like that?
I know, weird, isn’t it. But I was 100% sure that I wanted to be a PT, and it seemed completely normal to me at the time. In hindsight, it made sense for three main reasons.
I myself didn’t even know the reason behind the first reason until after I had finished PT school. At that time my mom let me know that when I was an infant she experienced an unspeakable tragedy in my presence. She didn’t respond to the tragedy with anger or hate. Instead, she chose love and forgiveness. Being her first born son, that was only six months old at the time of the incident, I was brought along on that journey. I went along for the ride and internalized all of those messages, which made up my childhood. This did result in me briefly considering things like being a priest or a monk, and although ultimately I decided against them, it was set deep inside me that I would do something that would do only good and and not do any harm or bad for humanity.
The other key parts of the story were a result of time and place.
The time was the late 60’s and all of the 70’s. This is when I started to come into my own, and it was a bit of a thing to be “organic” or natural. I dove all the way into that world. For a minute I thought I might be a naturopath, until I looked into the Yellow Pages and saw that there was only one of them in the whole state. That put an end to that thought. But still, the field had narrowed to something that would do good, and be natural and healthy too.
The next element was the place, which was Chicago, specifically the “South Side” and later the Southwest suburbs. Kids were tougher there, or at least they acted that way. As a young boy what was valued or cool (at least outside of my home) was being tough, or at least athletic. I was neither, until I reached age 12 or so, at which time I became a bit strong and somewhat decent at football. Not great but good enough. What I was naturally good at was math and science, and my dad had a business that was in the tech world, and we knew that was the future. But becoming athletic was cool, became my passion, and I attacked it accordingly by soaking up and learning everything I could to become faster, quicker, stronger, and fitter. I’ll never forget that during freshman year in high school mine was the only name on the library card for the one library book on Kinesiology. I really did attack it becoming athletic, and fit, and centered, via mind and body. And because of the “organic” part and my mom’s influence, soul too. Meditating, focusing, General psychology, sports psychology. Eastern religions. Then “Mind/Body/Soul”. Power lifting. Yoga. Nutrition, supplementation (no drugs though!). Quinoa and vegetarianism. Enzymes. Yoga, Plyometrics. Pilates. Feldenkrais. Biathlon. 10 K’s. Meditation. Kinesiology, Anatomy, Physiology, research and statistics. Learning to tell the difference between what was marketed well and would become a fad, vs something that held promise and was likely to work, and for whom. Anatomy and physiology again. And again. And then tutoring anatomy and physiology in undergrad And tutoring them again in PT school. Dr. Steven J. Rose. Shirley Sarhmann. Tony Delitto. Stanley Paris. Joe Godges. Stats. Research. More stats. Certification after Certification. 50 or so continuing education classes. Signing the first lease, 10 year anniversary. 20 year anniversary. Learning to bill insurance and fight insurance (and learning to accept when you lose). Mentoring at my clinic and at USC. Alison Hanson. Mike Andersen. Mia Katzel. Cindy Liang. Chris Kwon. Marriages for some of them, kids for some of them too. The Physical Therapyworks Residency. The USC Residency. Serving on boards...
To me PT is an accumulation of ways to find peace, joy, power, happiness. It's any and all methods, but we use science and our expertise to determine and know what works best with whom, at whatever point in time.
That’s how the journey started, and 43 years later From an Absolute Beginner, to veteran with beginners mind. The journey continues– except for writing this now – I haven’t looked back.