I've known that I wanted to be a PT since I was 14. A bit weird, right? But I was 100% sure, and it seemed completely normal to me at the time. In hindsight, this made sense for three reasons.
I myself didn’t even know the reason behind the first reason until after I had finished PT school. It was at that time that my mom let me know that when I was an infant she experienced an unspeakable tragedy while in my presence. Rather than responding to the tragedy with anger or hate, she chose to live a life that was comprised of love and forgiveness, regardless of the situation, the people involved, or whether or not she thought that she was "right". Of course this lead to a sense of accepting sacrifice, and putting the greater good above and beyond her own immediate well being and happiness (which also necessitates developing a pretty good sense of humor). The severity of the tragedy must have caused her counter-reaction to run deep and wide, as it lives strong within her to this day. Being my mother's first son that was only six months old at the time of the incident meant that I was brought along on her very passionate journey, internalized those philosophies, and made them my own. This did result in me briefly considering things like being a priest or a monk, and although ultimately I decided against professions that were that extreme, 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 the 70’s. This is when I started to come into my own, and it was the beginning of an era that valued being “organic” or natural, and where thoughts, feelings and well being not only intersected but could be consciously influenced by one another. A world where movement could not only influence the way you move but also how you think and feel, and where the reverse was also true. Where these things, along with what you ate not only effected you, but the world around you as well. I immediately identified and jumped headfirst into that world.
The next element was the place, which was Chicago. Specifically the “South Side” and later the Southwest suburbs. Kids were tough in these areas (or at least acted that way), and being tough - or at least athletic - was what was valued as a young boy at that time. I was neither, and to make matters even worse, I was smart, which was a real negative when it came to coolness! It was a sad situation. Around age 12 or so, however, I became a bit strong and somewhat decent at football. This became my passion, and I attacked it accordingly by soaking up and learning everything I could that would help me become faster, quicker, stronger, and fitter and a better athlete.
This wasn't the beginning of my journey, but it did bring some focus to the matter. I really did attack the goal of becoming athletic, and fit, and centered, both in and via mind and body. And because of the “organic” part and my mom’s influence, soul too. Meditating, general psychology, sports psychology. Eastern religions. Power lifting. Yoga. Nutrition, supplementation (no drugs though!). Vegetarianism. Yoga, Biathlons. 10 K’s.
Then came college and later PT school, and not only learning to "not be down on what you're not up on" (credit to Dr. Steven J. Rose, our program director, for always fusing an open mind with a strict and consistent scientific method), but also classes including Kinesiology, Anatomy, Physiology, Research and statistics. More anatomy and physiology. And again. Tutoring both in undergrad and again in PT school. Great teachers from the past and present including Florence Kendall, Stuart McGill, Vladimir Janda, David Simons, Janet Travell, Steven J. Rose. Shirley Sarhmann and Tony Delitto. Post graduation offered more great teachers including Stanley Paris, Brian Mulligan and Joe Godges, and class after class as well and a couple of well earned certifications. (If you'd like to see my resume/CV with a list of all of the classes, please click here). Learning the power of therapeutic alliances and therapeutic relationships. Ultimately learning and re-learning how to figure out what is going on, what works, with whom and at what phase. Teaching others the same via mentoring at my clinic and at USC as well. The Physical Therapyworks Residency. The USC Residency. Practicing (and there is a reason they call it "Medical Practice") long enough for the research to finally find good evidence to support the things that I always instinctively knew or had figured out as I went along. Working with great employees including Alison Hanson. Mike Andersen. Mia Katzel. Cindy Liang. Chris Kwon and others too. Being there for marriages for some, and kids for some of them too.
That’s how the journey started, and 43 years later I can see how I've traveled from being an absolute beginner to a veteran, committed to maintaining a beginners mind. The journey continues, and except for writing this now, I haven’t looked back. The journey continues.