A mouth full of knowledge…
I woke up and my entire face hurt and I needed to know why. Nandi was crying and I felt her anguish. Luckily, my husband came to my rescue and picked up my daughter and pacified her with milk and promises of Elmo as he carried her to the next room. My face was still throbbing and I gave a few tentative pushes on my cheeks to see if I could find out where the pain was coming from. I came away with nothing. I opened my mouth a few times trying to see if maybe my jaw was just a little tight and that was causing the problem but I couldn’t get much from that either. Finally I took a deeper breath and decided to give it a little time. Sometimes things feel worse when you first wake up.
As the day went on, I experimented with different things but the pain was still there and it felt like it was getting worse. Not only was my face hurting but it was starting to give me a migraine. I began to panic. Taking care of a one year old with a hurting head and face is not pleasant, even if she always is. She’s a vivacious child who never lives life halfway, and so I can’t half step it when I’m in mommy mode. I took something for the migraine and hoped that it would help the ache in my face also.
As the pain in my head began to dull I noticed that there was a pressure in my mouth. “Oh no.” I murmured and tried to catch myself but my husband had already heard. Snapping to attention he asked me what was wrong. “I think it’s my wisdom tooth. I think it may be pushing on my other teeth or something and it’s causing me a lot of pain,” I finally confessed. He gave me that look that he normally does when I’ve been hiding a weak spot from him and told me we were going to call the dentist and schedule and appointment.
“You described it aptly” honest to goodness that’s a direct quote from the dentist. “What you guessed is exactly what’s happening. The wisdom tooth is pushing on the rest of your teeth and causing you the pain. You already know what I’m going to say next, and I know you aren’t going to like it, but the pain isn’t going to stop until you get it pulled. It has to come out.”
The dentist looked sympathetic enough, and I nodded bravely, but as I left all of the nurses looked like they felt for me. The bottom line is I was scared. I was unsure about everything, being put under anesthesia and then waking up in pain with a mouth full of gauze and being unable to chew…and having my vivacious one year old. But the pain was worse because it was ongoing and every day. I had no choice but to schedule to have it taken out. Tuesday 2.21 is the day. On the ride home all I could think about was this little tooth that was causing me so much pain and trouble. Everyone wonders the same thing: “why on earth do they call them wisdom teeth?” One answer I’ve heard is because the grow in later in life. But honestly how many little wisdom teeth do we have in our lives? Literally speaking there are four. Two on the top of our mouths, and two on the bottom. But figuratively there are hundreds. Thousands even.
There are so many experiences in our lives, or moments, or little things that aren’t even necessary half the time, but cause us so much pain and suffering. I’ve been trying to see each experience in my life as something that I can learn from. Something that can make me into a better person. Into a more loving, more devoted human being. And just as we’ve been living and eating and chewing without our wisdom teeth for so long, one day something just pops up. We stumble on the path to greatness somehow or we find a blockage in our life that seems to push up against all of the good things in our lives and causes us pain. We have to go to the doctor and we have to seek help to remove these blockages from our lives. Most likely, the process will be painful, but there is always help for that too.
Okay, so what in the world is she talking about? There is no life doctor! But there is. There are those people that we come in contact with who are teachers on this path of spirituality and life. If we are looking out for them and listening out for them we can find them. Sometimes, like me we don’t want to admit that the problem exists until it is causing us so much pain that it is impossible to ignore. But we need the spiritual doctor. We need that advice and consultation. The process to clearing the blockages of the heart may very well be painful. We may learn things about ourselves that we don’t like. We may have to face things that we are afraid of. But the soothing balm of kirtan is on our side. I find that kirtan is a place where I can voice my fears, cry, laugh, and connect. It really is a safe haven for me.
After I heard that my wisdom tooth had to come out, I took all my fears and I went to kirtan. I looked at the beautiful faces of Radha and Krishna in The Bhakti Center and I sang. I let my heart reveal that I had fears. I let down my guard a little and ultimately knew that everything was up to them. Once the tooth is out, my ongoing pain should stop after a day or so of recovery. I’ll be better off without it digging into my other teeth. Once we clear out the blockages of the heart, we will be better of without them causing us pain and drama in our lives. It’s an ongoing process and each experience is a little test to see just how far we can advance on the path. I wish you luck in your endeavors, and I hope you find the spiritual dentist who can help you remove the wisdom teeth of your life, but not the lessons that they teach us. I’ll pray for you, you pray for me. Deal?