I am very afraid of dentists. I would rather give birth again than to sit in a dentist's chair. One of my earliest childhood memories is of being tortured by a dentist. I can honestly say that was my first experience with real pain, and it was delivered by a total stranger. Obviously I've never been able to completely let that go. I'm not that six year old anymore, but I share her memories to this day.
A couple of weeks ago I decided a tooth that had been nagging me probably needed a filling or something. I made an appointment, gathered what courage I could, and sat in that chair. Everything would be alright soon, right? Wrong! Turns out that the tooth in question must be removed! Pulled!! Extracted!!! Enter the pounding heart, racing mind, sudden inability to draw a full breath. Panic began to squeeze me. I assumed that "Dr. Doom" (poor guy) would do the deed right then and there. Trapped like a rat! How quickly we can be transported straight to the gates of hell, if only in our mind. At any rate, I was given a temporary reprieve when they scheduled the dreaded next appointment for two weeks from then. That gift of time expires TOMORROW MORNING! But that's too soon - I'm not ready!
It's interesting how our perception of time is so closely related to and altered by our attraction or aversion to whatever happens to be approaching. When it's something we want or like time seems to stand still. If, on the other hand, it is something we don't want then time shifts to warp speed. We know this isn't true, but it sure feels that way.
This has been one of those situations when a particular teaching suddenly strikes a very real cord. I have read the Pabbatopama Sutta, The Simile of the Mountain, many times before. Good story, no doubt, but it remained just that. I got it but didn't get it. Not really. Out of ignorance and delusion - clinging to the memory of a memory - I have neglected to properly care for my teeth. It's just that simple. Time marches on whether or not we choose to acknowledge it. Procrastination proves to only create even more difficulty, as the clock continues to tick. Of course all of this dentist business pales when compared to what is steadily closing in on all of us. The tooth will come out, I will survive and feel foolish for having created so much unnecessary suffering for myself. And all the while the clock will continue to tick off the minutes.
The Power of Vow
4 weeks ago