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Of Dental Floss and Headgear

January 15, 2011

I wore headgear in middle school.  Yeah, I was awesome.  A headgear-wearing, Space-Camp-attending, theater kid who couldn’t kick a soccer ball if you paid me.  If it’s any consolation, I only had to wear the headgear to bed, but it created some difficult problems.  For starters, it was connected to my braces and both braces and headgear provided quite the obstacle to one of my favorite bedtime rituals: flossing.  I didn’t even know I loved flossing so much until it was taken away from me during my years of major orthodontia work.  Who wants to thread a “flossing needle” underneath their braces and around their headgear for every tooth in their mouth?  That process completely took away from the instant gratification of flossing – swipe the string between your teeth and voila! – plaque be gone!  I loved being able to see such a simple task produce such exceptional results.  Of all the many downsides of being a teenager with headgear (no boyfriends, a funny lisp, and cuts on the side of my mouth) I would like to add “inability to floss” to the list.

Now that my years of oral trauma are over and my teeth are lovely and straight, I have a new appreciation for flossing.  There are few activities in life where you can see the results of your work so quickly.  Vacuuming is another little pleasure that I love as much as flossing because the dirt is instantly gone.  With the flip of a switch I can bring a small bit of calm into my life by erasing crumbs and laundry lint and pebbles from my floor.  It might sound crazy to be so satisfied with these menial little tasks, but as adulthood moves me from idealism into reality, I am grateful for the times I can actually see my work pay off.

This current phase of life is the first time I have been without a “next move” on the horizon, and I’m unsure exactly what it is I am working toward.  College degree?  Check.  Marriage?  Check.  Great job?  Check check.  For the first time I am sitting in this land of stability where the results of my labor are to simply remain “settled.”  I want for nothing, so why does that leave me with a desire for something to want?  Should I be planning a vacation or saving for a home?  Is it enough to be paying off student loans and car insurance, or is that not sufficient forward progress?  High school and college and dating all led to a specific end, so now what?  I know that there is a lifetime of adventure still waiting to happen, but my life will be relatively the same for the next few years.  Do I trust that what is happening now will enhance a future I cannot yet see?  I certainly hope that I do.

I know that life is not about instant satisfaction.  I know that dreams and vocations and experiences are cultivated over time.  Despite feeling unsettled by all this stability (weird, yes?), I know and am grateful for this time of balance.  It is a time to be cherished and clung to, and not one to wish away.  I have an entire lifetime for change.  For now, dental floss and vacuuming will have to do to prove the fruits of my labor.  And every time I smile, I am reminded of the results of my headgear.  The fact that I wore that, in and of itself, is a victory worth celebrating.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 15, 2011 6:03 pm

    Babies. Plural.

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