At the age of 23, I graduated from the first graduating class of Sherman College of Chiropractic. I was filled with incredible hope, endless idealism and an abounding love for life.
To Find One’s True Self
By Richard Mabey Jr.
In September of 1976, at the age of 23, I graduated with the first graduating class of Sherman College of Chiropractic. It was a tough haul for me. Chiropractic college is a four year program. It is a grueling and tough curriculum. It did not come easy to me. I was just glad it was over.
After graduation I took the West Virginia Chiropractic Board Exam and passed. It was around June of 1977 that I set up a little store front chiropractic office, in a small town in West Virginia. I have plans to write more about this experience, reflecting upon the real life people who touched my life, during this time period. I don’t want to be sued. Some of these folks may still be around. So, for that reason, I am going to call this town, Deer Valley.
Deer Valley had about two thousand people in it. Most of the people were very poor. I was young, I was idealistic, I was filled with hope of touching as many people’s lives as I possibly could.
From June of 1977 till about June of 1979, I lived in poverty. I lived in the back of the little store front. It was cramped. There was a tiny shower in the backroom bathroom. It was like the time Barney lived in the backroom of the Court House. Except it wasn’t a half-hour sitcom, it was real.
I don’t know how I did it. Back then, chiropractic was nowhere near as accepted as it is now. The people in Deer Valley were good people, solid people, but they were dirt poor. They would come to me to get adjusted and bring a brown paper bag filled with tomatoes from their garden, to pay me. This is not a joke. This is the reality of it all.
People would come to me to get their spine adjusted. They would seem to be happy with me. They seemed to be happy with everything that I did for them, in adjusting their spinal column. They would pay what they could. Sometimes, they would tell me that they couldn’t afford to pay anything. I would still adjust them.
I worked part time at a grocery store to subsidize my income as a chiropractor. Still, I mostly lived on hot dogs and beans. And, not the national brands. I would buy the cheaper “store brand” hot dogs and beans. But, I was filled with hope, youthful energy, and endless idealism.
I got sick. I got very sick. I was worn and weary. I was flat broke. I had failed to make a living as a chiropractor. I felt ashamed. I felt like a big fat failure.
One day, I could go on no longer. My yearly lease was up. I closed up shop and drove back home to Lincoln Park, New Jersey in my 1966 Ford Galaxie. That chapter closed in my life. It was a most painful chapter.
In the late 1970’s chiropractic did not enjoy the acceptance that it holds today. I want to be very kind here. But, the people in small town West Virginia were often suspicious of a newcomer. Let alone a newcomer who was young and talked about the importance of the alignment of the spinal column for maintaining good health.
I learned a lot in those two years. I learned a lot about people. I learned a lot about myself. I wrote a lot. I wrote every spare minute I had. My love for writing just grew and grew and grew, during those two years of poverty. In many ways, writing chose me, I did not choose writing.
It was painful to write this particular chapter of my blog. For all the young people out there. For all the young at heart. Find yourself. Not the self that you think others want you to be. Find your true self. It may take facing a failure or two in life. But there is great fulfillment found in finding your true self. Only you can do it