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Where I kind of like going to the dentist

by John on July 15th, 2015

I’m aware that I’m in the minority here, but I actually enjoy going to the dentist. Don’t get me wrong, when there is shit that needs to be done in my mouth, it’s no fun at all (and I’ve had fillings, filling replacements, a crown, and two crown replacements — all of which have sucked). But, for a routine cleaning, I enjoy it. You see, I’m someone who tends to always be “on.” I’m plugged in, I’m available. Even when I go on vacation, I keep my cell phone handy — if something happens at the office, I get a phone call. When I’m “just sitting around,” I’ll find myself texting or playing games or checking email or facebook or twitter.

In short, I am seldom “bored.” My mind seldom “just drifts.”

It’s that “drifting” where I come up with my best ideas — where I start formulating stories, coming up with key concepts and then tying stuff together. It’s where I envision melodies that often become songs.

It’s where I feel I’m at my most creative.

And in the dentist’s chair, I can’t be plugged in . . . I need to “just be.”

I found myself thinking about this truth the other day. As many of you know, I’ve been recovering from shingles. I really think I’m getting better — but, as I get better, I get increasingly discouraged by any setback, no matter how small. Rather than waiting to be “fully healed”, I chose to run after work. I had several free hours on my hands; I drove myself to the “hilly part” of the Harrisburg Marathon, with the hopes of running a technical 5k course a couple of times.

I had no pressing matters, yet I found myself stressing about getting started.

There was no reason for me to be stressing. And? I was actually dreading the run because of this. I got to the park and felt, immediately, that I needed to run out & find a place to change into my running gear . . . if I was quick, I’d be “running” in just a few minutes. Fortunately, I figured out that I was stressing for no reason at all; I was following some fabricated schedule which only existed in my mind. I stopped. I took my time changing into my running gear. I stretched and meditated before starting the run. I started the run with a clear mind; I enjoyed myself.

I had nowhere to be. I had no time constraints — I allowed myself to relax, and it was good.

I find myself thinking the same heading into the next week — I am heading to the beach on vacation. “Getting there” is stressful in itself — there are lists to ensure that we’ve identified everything that we’ll need while there1. There is packing. There is the actual driving. I start thinking about everything that needs to be done, and I start to stress . . . but the thing about vacation? It starts when I get there. If we leave the house at 8 in the morning, we leave the house at 8 in the morning. If we don’t pull-out of the driveway until the early afternoon, so be it. Part of me wants to schedule everything to the minute – as much of my life is scheduled to the minute. But here? There is no need . . . once I’m at the beach, there might be two things that I need to be at a certain place at a certain time — but that’s it. And neither of those events require me leaving the house by a certain time, or crossing the Bay Bridge by a certain time, or pulling in at the beach house at a certain time.

I need to remind myself that it’s not imperative that I am constantly in motion . . . when life allows for relaxation, I need to step back and relax. When life allows me to smell the roses, I need to smell the roses, and enjoy the act of smelling the roses — and to not turn “rose smelling” into yet another itinerary item.

In short, I think I need to spend more of my time living like my kids do – where everything in their world is only what is happening “in the now.”

1 We won’t talk about the time that my wife went & packed a bag . . . and, somehow, that bag stayed, perfectly packed, in the bedroom while the family made it safely to the beach.
  1. I am so glad you are finally coming to this conclusion because I was getting ready to drive down there and duct tape you to a chair so you would stay put for a lengthy period of time…and you’re a long drive away.

    • It was fun when you managed to visit 🙂

      And I’m *trying* to keep with the “not so busy, all the time,” but, well, you know how that works with me.

  2. When my kids were babies, I LOVED going to the dentist for routine cleanings. Well loved is a slight exaggeration, but it was one of the few breaks I got, even if I had to go at 8am before Christian went to work. When they were done, I would say, “Can I just lay here for a little while longer?”

    • Alas, this is absolutely something I understand, completely. It’s funny, because I’ll usually have a hygienist apologize when I have to wait between the teeth cleaning & when the dentist actually verifies that everything is ok . . . and I just have to respond, every time with “no problem.”

  3. You so crazy – the dentist is the worst! Actually, I like my dentist and hygienist. They are all so nice and the process isn’t so bad. But I do not look forward to it. Ever.

    I do, however, completely relate to what you’re saying about letting yourself be in the now. I am always processing a list of things to do, thinking several steps ahead, and managing schedules. It’s so nice when I allow myself to be present. I need more practice.

    • Last night, I was all excited because I was going to sit down & “have time to myself.”

      I promptly fell asleep.

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