We’re Almost Done!

A dentist holding two instruments in front of his face.

A few weeks ago I had to have an upper rear tooth removed.  It received a root canal and a cap many years ago and finally its lifetime of use expired.  I’m sitting in the dentist’s chair, and he walks in, gives me a shot of Novocain and says; “I’ll be back in 10 minutesâ€.  As numbness slowly crawls all over my face, I sit there wondering just how painful this is going to be and finally conclude that if the shot works, there should be no pain.  But, I also know that whether it works or not is entirely dependent on the skill of the dentist.  This guy says he does 30 extractions a day so I’m guessing he is pretty good.  In about 10 minutes, he walks back in with his assistant and starts to work, using a pair of vice-grips in my mouth.  At first, it sounded like someone breaking up rocks, but he assured me everything was ok.  Then it felt like the roots of the tooth had expanded into my lower chest cavity and my lungs and heart were trying to come out with them.  “We’re almost done!†he exclaims with a big smile, as he removes the offensive tooth and its root.  Quickly, they insert gauze into the crater left by the tooth to stem the flow of blood and encourage clotting.  “Wellâ€, says he, “that wasn’t too bad was it?† Well, no, if you’re the person standing there with this humongous tool, and it has done absolutely nothing to harm you.  As I get up to leave he pats me on the back and says with enthusiasm; “Have a good day!† If you’ve ever had a tooth pulled, you know that’s not going to happen.  As Joseph Barbera once said; “Faced with the choice of enduring a bad toothache or going to the dentist, we generally tried to ride out the bad tooth.â€

My left hip has started bothering me as of late.  I suspect it is arthritis, but that diagnosis has not been proven yet.  We have stopped running our local trail and started using our bicycles on our local streets.  That seems to help, but I’m still hoping to get over this thing and get back to running (which I love).  I would settle for being able to walk the trail if that’s necessary.  I suspect that we settle for a lot in life.  I have a friend that has settled for looking after his wife who has a disease that mandates a wheelchair for the rest of her life.  He does it willingly and without complaint.  I’m not sure that I could do that, although I would like to think I could.  I have a cousin that has lost a leg and the possibility remains that he may lose the other one.  I talk to him on a weekly basis and his courage is remarkable.   I have a 2nd cousin that needs a kidney and recently rushed to the hospital thinking one was waiting for him.  Upon arrival, he was told it wasn’t a good match, and he returned home somewhat despondent.  He has been doing nightly dialysis for a couple of years now.  I don’t think he has settled for it always being that way.  I guess the point I’m making here is there are some things in life we have to accept and then, some things can get better, and we can get on with our life.  I’m hoping my hip problem is one of those things.  While important to me, my problem pales in comparison to those that others face.  R. Fuller once said; “The one common experience of all humanity is the challenge of problems.† Sadly, that seems to be all too true.

I ran across a quote the other day that intrigued me: “Believe those who are seeking the truth.  Doubt those who find it.â€

That was written by French author Andre Gide, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1947.  It appears the author does not believe that the truth can ever be found and if someone says they have, then they are untruthful.  In my lifetime I have discovered many truths.  For example;  Mom and Dad will love you no matter how badly you behave;  if you drive too fast, or drink too much the end results are always bad;  if you eat a lot and exercise very little, misery is just around the corner.  Now, I’m sure that Andre  was referring to truths deeper than my examples, but nevertheless, all those things are important.  Mom & Dad used to complain because I didn’t call home often enough, and now I haven’t talked to them in almost 25 years.  Fast driving can end a good life in a heartbeat, as well as can alcohol.  That overeating thing has plagued me all my life.  That little sucker follows me around like a Blue-Tick hound follows a coon scent.  For some reason, I think God made us as imperfect beings to see how we handle it.  Whatever our character flaw(s), it’s important to constantly strive to overcome them, else it will overcome us and as we age, we will pay the price.  But, as Andrew Jackson so famously said: “ One man with courage makes a majority.† I prefer to think that I have the courage to overcome my shortcomings so that puts me in the majority J.

We recently decided to dig a well and install a sprinkler system in our yard.  The guy we contracted to do the job has done reasonably well, but as Jerilyn has watched them systematically destroy years of hard work, she has gotten really stressed out.  Now, don’t get me wrong, this woman is a brilliant butterfly in a black & white world, but she can be tough when she gets upset.  Our contractor’s 30 something son (Skippy-who we nicknamed Zippy) gets under her skin the most.  His favorite line to her starts with; “Ma’am, you just don’t understand….†and then he continues with the rest of the statement.  She has done reasonably well in controlling her frustration, but she watches them intently as they plow thru the yard and into her flower gardens and wild area.  We now have a large fake rock to cover the well pump and necessary accessories, but she is not happy about the well location since it is directly in front of the front porch.  I have no doubt she will think of some way to camouflage it.  The well driller had to try four locations before finding a place to drill the necessary 125 feet to hit water.  We have been assured that our well water will not contain the dreaded iron that stains everything it touches, or salt that kills the shrubs.  If it does, I will be a very unhappy camper!

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.”- Arthur Schopenhauer.  How true that is.  I have known quite a few people with talent but very few geniuses (exceptional intellectual ability).   I know, perhaps, two or three people that come close.   Those people know they are smarter than average and are more than willing to let others use their abilities to resolve problems in their lives.  In other words, they share the genius they surely know they inherited from someone else.  I think most of us will agree there is nothing more disagreeable than an arrogant smart person.  Wait a minute, maybe an arrogant idiot is more disagreeable!  As a kid growing up in a coal camp, the smartest person I knew was the camp superintendent, and he could not read nor write.   When I did chores for him, he would reach into his pocket, fetch some change, extend his hand with palm open and tell me to take 50¢.   How many of us today knows someone that’s illiterate?   I have known two people in my life that were.  Today, that is unthinkable with the educational opportunities available to every American, there is really no excuse to be uneducated.  I believe the really important thing, no matter our smartness, is how much common sense we have and how well we use it.  So, if  I can’t qualify in the genius area, do I have any talent?  Alas, I fall far short in that area also.  I’ve been practicing guitar and taking lessons for well over a year and Jerilyn puts on her earmuffs whenever she sees me headed for the thing.   I am an utter failure at making things grow and carpentry might as well be some foreign language.  I guess I do all those things because I have fun trying.

“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.” – W. H. Auden.  I reflected on this quote a bit, and I must say that I agree with it.  I have people in my life that lift me up.  I always valued their relationship, but I was unaware of exactly why I valued them so much until I ran across that quote.  I’ll bet you have people in your life that fit that description.  Some radiate with happiness and a positive attitude while others never see anything good in life and something is always wrong.  I am sure that all my readers are the radiate type.  I have a childhood friend that passed away recently (so long, Les) and by all accounts, he was wonderful Christian and a thoroughly good human being.  A couple of years ago he came by unexpectedly for a visit.  He and I sat out on the park bench in our backyard and gazed down the creek as we talked of old times.  I had not seen Les since 1959, and at that time he was a mere 16 years old.  Here two old friends sat reminiscing, at the ripe old age of 65 & 67.   I was impressed at what a nice guy he turned out to be, full of energy, enthusiasm and a strong desire to enjoy life.  His life was taken instantly by a massive heart attack.  I strongly suspect that Les was an integral part in a lot of peoples lives and will be sorely missed.  My memory of our conversation on that park bench is that there was a lot of laughter, just the way old Les used to make me laugh as a kid.  I sure hope I make my friends laugh, and I strongly suspect Les is doing the same in Heaven.

I hope you have enjoyed this missive and that wherever your corner of the world may be, you enjoy the life you have so diligently carved for yourself.  If you have the time, I would enjoy hearing from you, and I close with a quote by Benjamin Franklin: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writingâ€.  I hope I have accomplished both