We can think of the surface as something to get beyond; to delve deeply into a subject is to get beyond the surface. However the surface is also the interface, the line between what is outside and what is inside. As massage therapists, we think ab0ut the surface of a person, the skin that we touch. However, we also think about what lies beneath: the muscles, bones and joints, the circulatory and nervous systems and even the spirit. In this context what is on the outside of the surface is important as well: the temperature of the room, the comfort of the table and the sheets, the texture of the lotion we apply. We are also taught to consider our intention in touching the surface of another person, for when our surfaces meet it is more than simply rubbing oil on the skin.
Years ago in undergraduate and graduate Anthropology courses, I remember the work of someone that wrote about what she termed the liminal aspects of culture. Looking up the definition, liminal can mean a threshold, or a right of passage; it can mean the place of in between, a time of becoming something new. We are no longer who we were but we have not become who we will be yet…I think the surface, when it is a place where one entity meets another can be a place like this. Just think of the feeling of jumping into the water…one moment you are a creature of the land, dry and bound by gravity and the next you are submerged and floating in a magical place. Or we can think of the moment when we take someone’s hand or reach out for a hug and remember that although it is simply my surface meeting your surface, we can, and hopefully do, meet at a deeper place.