You Can’t Always Save the Tooth: On Science and Humility
So I had this bit of pain and little bit of hard white stuff come out of my mouth one day. I didn’t think much of it. It turned out to be a bit of a filling that had come lose, which I ignored largely for want of dental insurance, time, and patience, and escalated into a half day at a dental clinic, and need for an eventual root canal.
When I went to get the root canal done- which I was mortified about, being all of 24 and not wanting to need such invasive surgery. I brushed twice a day and flossed every once in a while, like next to never, but I was a healthy, clean person. But my filling came out, and I had ignored it. The cavity was so large and had rotten so mch of my tooth that the dentist who was scheduled to do the root canal said that I’d eventually need to have the tooth pulled out, and he could do it now if I wanted.
I weighed the odds, thinking it was always better to stay with a piece of my own body, however corrupted, and not wanting to go down the line of fake teeth for as long as possible. He said I might need the tooth out in five years or three months, he couldn’t really say. I had the root canal and temporary cap.
A few months later, the tooth that had been stripped of its nerves began to hurt from time to time. I called the dentist in a timely manner, frustrated that my new flossing and mouthwash regimen hadn’t miraculously saved the tooth through good intentions alone. I had the tooth out.
And now, dear reader, I am icing it again, it really hurts when the painkillers wear off, and I have a giant gap in my mouth. All for want of a nail, as they say. If I’d had dental insurance, if I’d gotten my routine checkups, if I’d had the tooth looked at as soon as I’d suspected something was wrong, perhaps the whole incident and a few thousand dollars could have been saved. Thank God for interest free loans.
There are many ways it could have gone, but that is the way it did. Though I have hypothetical scenarios which are to an extent instructional, it is what it is. And the situation I have to work with is not the hypothetical, but the actual missing tooth space in my mouth, and the pain attending it at times.
I’m also looking for a job right now. I am hoping this job search goes better than my previous ones. Though I am tempted to simply despair and believe that the past predicts the future and there’s no hope for me, that’s simply not true. Circumstances have changed drastically, and what worked or didn’t work in the past may or may not work now. There are no easy answers, though I think I’ve learned a thing or two. And most important, is that I have to face the reality of the situation, which means looking deep within myself, and having accepted reality, asking what I really want, and what I should do next.
And I’m not going to have a grand foolproof plan that I just have to execute and presto change, I have an amazing job, or at least a thousand good excuses for not having one. The truth is, I really want, and need, a job. I have a better idea than before, through the experiments I’ve made before, of how to go about it. I know what I want, but I don’tt actually know what’s going to work. Though positive thinking will help, no amount of pretending the sky is green will help when it is actually blue. No amount of despair over why a green sky would be more lovely or beautiful or true is going to help me live this blue skied life any better.
And when it comes down to it, I’m just going to have to try and try again, making small changes, never really knowing exactly why something seems to be working, but having some ideas of an explanation. But I can’t go from the explanation to finding a working solution, at least not in a single bound. Maybe my first try will be right on the money, but there’s no guarantee. It is a scientific, humbling, uncontrollable process. It is not a result I can conjure out of thin air, or the best theories, or the finest intentions.
And what I want, more than many other things, is to succeed at this. To learn this science part of life, which needs art in order to survive. All my grandiose theories and inspirations still need me to put that brush to paper, and try, and see what happens next.
This is the mystery of life that can’t be escaped from or to. The place where Creation is tested is also where Creation isi made anew. And we are all aprt of it, if we only have the humility to participate. To nod, to say yes, to keep our eyes open to the wonder, the power, the glory, and that which is far beyond our control or comprehension. Science is not an inexorable march of super human progress, it is a long, slow, cold climb, making us every second a little streonger than before, making use of our supernatural grace that lets us take the first, and next, step.