I ask for creative inspiration and my front tooth falls out. Ha ha, very funny oh Great Cosmic Clown.
Lest you think me totally irreverent here, let me just say that I have a profound love and respect for the grand mysterious workings of the Universe and the power that lies behind it, whatever It is called. I also have a great appreciation of the gargantuan sense of humor inherent within it. Would that all of life’s tricky little life lessons were given with the ingredient of such wonderful humor. Perhaps they are, if one seeks to find it.
My six companions and I seek and find a Thai restaurant across the street from a theater on the upper west side in New York City. We are on a two-hour dinner break from a riveting woo-woo workshop by Tom Kenyon. Those interested in checking out the woo-woo can go to tomkenyon.com. Yes, I’m finally willing to own up publicly to my woo-woo leanings. It’s all a part of my recent decision to be authentic and true to myself—a risky move involving extreme vulnerability and definitely not for the faint of heart. If you haven’t tried it, and if you can muster up the courage, I highly recommend it.
Three of my dinner companions are eating with gusto, enjoying each morsel with that oooh-uahhh glazed-eyed look that overtakes one while in a fit of a divine dining delirium. Unbeknownst to the glazed-eye set, the rest of us are trying to choke down what might possibly qualify as the worst meal of our lives. But no matter – we aren’t really that hungry anyway after our tasty but frenetic lunch at a deli where we are rendered half deaf courtesy of fellow diners intent upon outshouting one another, and sound bouncing back and forth from a bare floor to a ceiling that suffers a serious lack of acoustic tiles.
Waiters whiz by our table at break-neck speed taking and delivering orders, while beleaguered busboys swoop away dishes from tables and send them crashing into huge plastic tubs just behind our booth. We are so intimidated by the pace of it all that we are reluctant to ask for the things that one would hope for in a deli, like straws, lemon, and mayo. Oy. Ulcer Gulch Deli.
Meanwhile, back at the dinner table, I bite into a soft summer roll dipped in peanut sauce and encounter something that clearly is not on the ingredient list. I discreetly sift through the ingredients that actually belong there, and while no one is looking, pick the unidentified object out of my mouth, and place it on my plate. It wasn’t very long before I discover that said mystery object is the fallen tooth responsible for a new gaping hole between two front teeth. I am now compelled to not to smile and talk simultaneously. Rats. I should have ordered soup.
Dinner ends and we return ourselves to the care and keeping woo-woo Tom who describes for us the upcoming meditation that will focus on clearing out the obstacles that prevent us from self love—obstacles of all manner and size, and sometimes brought on by seemingly insignificant things, such as a bad hair day, a pimple on a nose, or . . .
At this point it is all I can do not to jump out of my seat and shout, “Or a gaping hole in the middle of your smile!” but I manage to restrain myself.
It’s a very interesting exercise to rate oneself on a vanity scale from one to ten. A bad hair day might put me at about a six or seven depending upon the degree of badness. A nose pimple (I don’t even like that word) could be a four. But a toothless grin? That could well rate a minus something. I’m mildly embarrassed to confess that the toothless experience explodes my awareness into the realization that appearance means more to me that I’d like to admit. Bad hair days, pimples, and a toothless grin make mighty good grist for the self-image mill. Happily, I find comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in this one. What a great opportunity to get a good up-close-and-personal bird’s eye view of vanity and the role it plays in my life. Did I mention that I’m also working on willingness to allow myself to be vulnerable? What? Confess my shortcomings in public and own up to my own vanity? Horrors!
Day is done, and Amtrak whips us southward through the black of night toward home. A 2:30 a.m. arrival time seems forever away. I fidget in my seat in search of a wee modicum of comfort and try to settle in to review the experience du jour. I find myself rehearsing my response to friends who will surely ask me about the day. “Well,” I’ll say, “the weather was cold, windy, and miserable and mealtimes waffled between bad and worse. One traveling companion suffered from an ailing shoulder, another was barely able to walk due to extremely painful knees and back, and I lost a front tooth and my dignity, all in one innocent little bite.” Well, so other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play? It was amazing. My years of travel in the wonderful world of woo-woo made it all worthwhile and bearable, and allowed good humor and acceptance of what-is to make it a deliciously savory experience.
Joy of joy, my dentist responds to my frantic texts for a fix-it plan before I reach Wilmington. As I drive to my appointment the next day, my mind unleashes a flood of appreciation and I feel suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude for the extra hole in the head, along with its attending vanity crush. It reminds me about how grateful I am that my teeth have remained faithful and intact in spite of decades of wear and tear. I am grateful for my dentist, God bless him, who was willing and able to make time on his Sunday during a beautiful Memorial Day weekend to do damage repair and plug up the hole where a tooth should be. While I was at it, I gave thanks for my trusty and reliable little Honda and the gas in its tank, and the money to pay for damage repair, and for everything else in my world that came to mind as I wheeled my way around a traffic-jam free beltway. I gave thanks for that too. I just love the random bouts of unexplained joy brought about by an abundance of gratitude! Come to think of it, at moments like these, I love just about everything.
When I told Dr. Fixit of these newly minted insights, he said simply, “You made lemonade.”
I did. I made lemonade. The ingredients are a sweet, delicious blend of authenticity, vulnerability, and gratitude with a pinch humor mixed in for a bit of comic relief.
And speaking of sweet, in closing, I’d like to offer a special thanks to the Great Cosmic Clown for answering my request for inspiration in such a creative, humorous, and holy way (yes, pun intended). It’s so easy to love the lovable. The trick is to love it all—the good, the bad, the ugly—the bad hair days, the pimples, the holes in places where holes are not meant to be, and most especially, the self—and all those other selves out there in the world that some days seem so utterly unlovable. Right now, this minute, I love it all. Right now, this minute is all I have. I’d better get busy then and make the most of it while I’m still a grateful guest of our beautiful planet earth, courtesy of the grand cosmic plan.