Yesterday I spent a few hours hanging out in a dentist’s chair with a myriad of dental miscellanea and numerous fingers simultaneously stuffed into my mouth. Whoopee. When will lunch with friends be considered essential business, I wonder?
I have never been a big fan of dental visits, dating back to my early childhood when my poverty- stricken widowed mother dutifully took my sisters and me to a free dental clinic that was furnished with rows and rows of stark black dental chairs manned by budding dental students who poked and prodded and operated without benefit of Novocain. It was terrifying.
Later when things improved, off I went to a dentist who flew his own plane and had a mistress. I swear he poked around my mouth and created multitudes of man-made cavities to support his habits. I don’t know how my mother and I ever survived those years, but I’m fairly certain that she provided at least the down payment for the plane, while my school principal questioned my excessive requests to be excused for dental appointments. Had she known early on about his expensive indulgences, I’m sure she would have jumped chairs and moved on sooner.
Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars later, I still have all of my teeth—well, sort of, I guess, if an implant, a bunch of crowns, and a permanent bridge count as my teeth. I guess they do—I paid for them.
I have spent about a kazillion hours stressing out over the thought of an upcoming dental appointment. Noooo! Don’t make me go. I don’t want to . . . oh, the things that stick in our memory banks. It makes me wonder—how much of my life is, or has been, influenced by memories of the past?
I’ve done my best to drop the pre-dental-appointment hand-wringing habit, but sometimes I still catch myself in the act of stressing out ahead of time. Occasionally, I’ll even toss in a little resentment about how much it’s going to cost to sit in a dentist’s chair and endure a few hours of torture in the process.
Somewhere along the way though, sandwiched between the lines of past memory and present resentment, the light dawns and I realize that I am seeing amiss. I am seeing fear and hate. I could be seeing gratitude and love instead. A little transformation, please.
I am grateful that I still have teeth in my head to fix. I am grateful that I am able to pay to for necessary repairs. I am grateful that the days of terrifying dental torture is a thing of the past. I am grateful for the amazingly fabulous, wonderful technology that has brought dentistry into the present where I now live. I am grateful for a staff of kind, caring and experienced people who look after my dental health. I am grateful for every opportunity to let go of the past and transform fear into love.
Just to keep this in perspective, I offer one final note—and this one is the mother of all gratitude— I am especially grateful that my name is not George Washington and that I don’t have to live with wooden teeth. Eeks.
Note: The photo above is courtesy of New Waves of Light, a website designed by anonymous individuals around the world who share the intention of bringing light and love to a world of darkness and chaos. (newwavesoflight.org or NWOL.us).