Once in a while, a torrent of wind and rain rips through a remote corner of the world, shredding physical constructs and leaving a trail of uncharted and unjustified complaints in my mind. In the looming great shadow of bare survival, the fact that I complain about things like red lights and feeling tired in the morning brings a rush of shame to my cheeks.
So, I recently set out to catalogue my complaints, in an effort to oust my hot topics and “by opposing, end them.”
My complaint log failed, mostly because it turned out to be a more exhaustive project than I had anticipated. But evidently, my subconscience was hard at work, because no sooner had I abandoned the project than something uncharacteristically optimistic happened to me. I was driving home from the dentist—which usually entails a bevy of complaints and several puffy, novacane-faced, how-stupid-do-I-look-when-I-do-this expressions in the ol’ rearview—when I was struck by the sheen of glossy new snow covering the intersection. Oily puddles and bum litter had been transformed into textures of landscape, and all around me, things were beautiful and clean. One sheltered tree still blazed November-red, and I was caught unawares by the vibrance of snow under red eaves.
Suddenly, I was struck with such a Pollyannish notion, I almost didn’t recognize myself: what if we didn’t have dentists?! Oh for the love of amalgamated mercury alloy, what would I do if we didn’t have dentists! All my teeth would have, by now, rotted and fallen out (or come out Castaway style).
I inherited some pretty bad teeth, and so my trips home from the dentist are usually characterized by comments about how genetics were a terrible idea and how I should just replace all my teeth with implants already. But no—this time, I had a disturbing peace about the whole affair. When the light at that intersection turned red, I was thankful for the chance to snap a picture of the snow-covered underpass, and now I keep it at the fore of my memory in case I feel like griping about something. I figure, the world is full of enough sadness, why compound it by failing to see the grace of good dentistry and the cold mercy of freshly fallen snow?
I go back to the dentist in a few days. Wish me luck.