Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thursday Thoughts

Today I finally accepted my mother’s birthday present of a trip to the dentist to deal with the pain I have been having in my right jaw for the past week or so. I had avoided the dentist not because of my dread of physical pain, but because I of my concern—rightly, it turned out—that I could not afford the cost.

It seems that fillings had come out of four teeth, all of them in a row. I ended up getting the fillings replaced in three of them and have the fourth extracted. I am now sitting at my desk with gauze blocking the blood from where the extracted tooth was and beginning to experience the wooziness from the pain-reducing (nothing truly stops pain) medication the dentist prescribed. Thus, if I begin to make no sense, you understand that I am beginning to be under the influence of the narcotic.

Vishwa and I have been having a bit of a dialogue in the comment section of his blog about, among other things, how of respective societies try to deny and avoid dealing with death. He wrote: Nobody acknowledges death---forget acknowledging, it's a sin to even talk about it.

Our conversation reminded me of a story told by Anthony de Mello that is too long to place in the comments of Vishwa’s blog, so I am going to tell it here. I think that it comes from his book Heart of the Enlightened.

A man in Bagdad sent his servant on an errand to the bazaar. When the man returned he was terrified.

“Master,” he said, “in the bazaar I encountered a stranger and when I looked at his face I realized that the stranger was Death. He made a threatening gesture at me and then walked away. Now I am terrified that Death has come for me. Please give me a horse so that I may ride to Ramadi and thus avoid meeting Death.”

The man, out of love for he servant, provided him with his fastest horse and sent him on his way.

Later the same day the man himself went to the bazaar, where he saw Death standing among the stalls. He went up to him and said, “You made a threatening gesture toward my servant this morning. Why did you do that?”

Death replied, “Sir, that was not a threatening gesture. I was just surprised that to find him in Bagdad.”

“Why should he not be in Bagdad?” asked the man. “Bagdad is where he lives.”

“But,” replied Death, “tonight I am to come for him in Ramadi.”


  1. well i hope it feels better soon and i dont think you should let you know who that you have pain pill's shhhhhhhhhhhhh

  2. Hope you feel better soon. I once had a friend who swore his 10 years of depression and angst was due to a systemic infection--caused by his teeth. I'm not sure I agree or not, but hopefully you will recover quickly!

  3. I hope you get through the night OK. Having a tooth pulled can be really hurt when you are 60. :)

  4. You had a lot of tooth work done at one time. Hope you heal well!

  5. you are so right about the pain medication. I have a sensitive tooth atm, but I refuse to go to a dentist because last time they pulle dout two teeth to give my jaw room to grow (?????) and i know they will want me to get my wisdom teeth removed. But i like my wisdom teeth, it means I can suck on tubes of aniseed teething jel with good excuse.

    As for the death story, I've heard that before and it's so good. I have (finaly) stopped looking for death, but when it comes, i think i'll be pretty accepting.

  6. Hope you heal fast.

    I think I heard that story in a sermon many years ago.

  7. When I had all four of my wisdom teeth pulled in one sitting, I was given enough Vicodin to actually make the movie "Any Given Sunday" seem really, really good. Then I watched it straight and realized just how high I must have been.

    That death story reminds me of a Norse version that basically says the same thing. Odin wove the skein of a person's life before their birth, and when the skein runs out, nothing can be done, so a person may as well go through life without fear. Death will come at its appointed time, not before.

  8. Uhg. Dental work. And why exactly does it need to cost so much? I haven't figured that out yet.

    I love the Norse version of your death story that limpy gave. I wonder though, if people can bring about their death by their actions before it would have been written.

  9. Chica—I wish I could say my jaw feels better, but the gum above the extracted tooth still hurts, The dentists had a difficult time getting that tooth out. “You know who” figured it out; I don’t think she took any, but I haven’t checked. I think I just need to flush them down the toilet.

    Punkmom—“Systemic infection”: I wonder. The 11 years I lived in southern Indiana I had almost constant infections. Perhaps that was behind the depression I have felt since then?

    Abby—Hmmm. I hadn’t considered the age factor.

    Eddie—Thanks. I’ll be happy when all of the healing is over.

    Song—I never thought about that use for wisdom teeth. Of course, all of mine are now gone. That story does have a message, doesn’t it?

    Ex-Louisville Guy—You may have heard the story in a sermon. I’ve used it more than once.

    Limpy—These pain killers do change the way we see the world, don’t they? Perhaps that’s why my friend “C” is addicted to them.

    I’ve not read the Norse version of the story. I must look it up. Thanks.

    Sonson—I am sure people have an impact on the time of their deaths.