Thursday, January 13, 2011

Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

Earlier this week I was finally able to get my broken tooth extracted. Now, I had my wisdom teeth taken out when I was younger, but for that I was blissfully asleep. So this was an entirely new, less-than-pleasant experience for me. But it had to be done, so there we were.

Since the only memory I have of teeth coming out is when I lost my baby teeth, my idea of what this was going to be like was anything but realistic. It turns out that baby teeth are supposed to come out, whereas permanent teeth are not. That being the case, this extraction took longer, was more painful, and came with much more disturbing noise. (I think that may have been the worst part. That snapping sound is just plain creepy.) And of course being broken meant that it came out in multiple pieces, which meant several rounds of creepy snapping. That made things even more awesome.

Despite the unpleasantness, I was doing fine. I was mostly just listening to music and trying to block everything else out so I didn't have to think too much about what was being done to me. But then, as the dentist was trying and trying to get a particularly stubborn piece to come out, his assistant made a joke about how the tooth must really like me, because it just didn't want to come out. I couldn't respond, of course, with all of the fingers that I had in my mouth at the time, but my thought was that if the tooth really liked me, it wouldn't have broken in the first place. I figured it liked me about as little as I liked it at the moment.

So of course then my mind started to wander, and I started getting all philosophical about the whole situation. This tooth was damaged beyond repair. No going back. No salvaging the relationship. It had to end, for both our sakes. The only possible outcome of our continued coexistence would be mutual pain and further destruction. And yet... it didn't want to let go.

Yes, you could dismiss this as just a tooth that the dentist had a hard time extracting. Or you could accept the obvious symbolism, and ask yourself if you have ever seen this in your own life. (I'm guessing we all have.) Change is hard, and people generally tend to resist it. We cling to what we know, even if it is painful, or otherwise not good for us. We continue bad habits, or stay in bad situations, or hold on to negative emotions, because it is what we know, and the unknown is scary. On the other hand, without change there would be no growth. Sometimes we just have to let go, and move on. It might hurt at the time, but in the end chances are it will be for the best.

The tooth eventually came out, the bleeding eventually stopped, and with the help of some ibuprofen and an ice pack, I'm healing just fine. And I hope I can remember this the next time I find myself holding on to something that I just need to let go.


  1. As always, well said!

  2. Wow, that was deep! And I thought I was the philosophical one. :)

    It's great to find a positive message in an otherwise unpleasant experience. This was more than just "finding the bright side". This sounds more like finding the meaning in those curve balls that life throws us, and using them to make yourself stronger. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks everyone - your comments really mean a lot to me. It's always nice to think that somebody else out there might be able to benefit from my "great learning experiences."

    Happy reading. :)