Thinkings from a dentist’s chair

Sitting in a dentist’s chair with enough Novacaine in your mouth to make it feel like you’re harboring an elephant gives you lots of thinking time.I had a few teeth that needed filllings and two that needed extracting, per my orthodontist’s orders. I blithely thought, “why not take care of everything at once.” To do that, howsoever, they had to numb every bit of my mouth except for the floor. It’s an incredibly odd feeling, that of having ownership of lips and a tongue, but not being able to feel them. What’s worse, they asked me to stick out my tongue so I stuck out what I thought was my tongue, hoping devoutly it wasn’t my tonsils or small intestine.
And you know, nothing really hurts after the initial pricking and pinching off the big, bad needle. It’s just a whir of pulling and noises and lights and tools that bump and grind and an occasional, “You okay down there, honey?” ( he’s allowed to say that, because this is the south and he’s over 50 🙂 You really want to get honeyed and sweethearted, and dolled and stuff, just try standing behind a cash register and help a couple hundred of people a day.
The dentist left for a little after the fillings were done and I was done fighting unfair battles with forces not to be reckoned with so I said to the nurse, “ahhhhh eeeeeee eeeeeee ewwwwwww ohhhhhhh ewwwwww uhhhhhhh ahhhhhhh ewwwww.” She looked at me sympathetically, remarking on how long I’d been on the chair and kindly showed me the bathroom. I’m in awe of her foreign language expertise.
But back to the thinking…..I was trying to imagine a numb life. A life without pain. Or suffering. Or hardship. There are times I foolishly think I could really enjoy that. It would be nice not to feel the heartbreaking pain of the death of a dear friend.To not have a heart bleeding for abused children and the pain they go through. To not have to worry and wonder over children in Liberia who are for various reasons, involved in witchcraft and things you and I have never gone through. Can you imagine life without all that?
But imagine also a life without joy. For without pain, one can not experience joy. You can’t experience the good in the absence of the bad because there would be nothing to define goodness and badness. Lasagna wouldn’t taste nearly as delicious if I wouldn’t have baked oatmeal to compare it to. (now you know my feelings on both food items 🙂
  Imagine a life without smiles, for smiles are a result of joy and happiness. A life without laughter and kindness and thanksgiving.
I tried to find the story of the People in the land of the Middle. It’s an interesting and soul searching read about a land devoid of emotion. It was never hot nor cold. The people were neither happy nor sad. Theirs was a life without color, without tears, and without smiles. I find it fascinating and disturbing all at once. Give me a life with tears and heartbreaks and questions…..because then I can know happiness, comfort and healing.
There’s all kinds of emotional novacaine out there to rob you of feeling. Lies. Society is out to numb you of certain things to get you to experience others. I think of the many innocent young children all over Africa who are brain-washed, given a gun and told to kill. And they do, without emotion.
This is not a post about letting your feelings dominate you and celebrating them to the extent of not living in reality. This is just a post of thanksgiving to the One who gave me the capacity to feel love and pain. To laugh and cry. And to live with meaning.

One thought on “Thinkings from a dentist’s chair

  1. Wow. Thanks for reminding me, Vicki.

    Have you ever read “The Gift of Pain” by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey? Brand is/was a leprosy doctor for most of his life.


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