Thursday, September 08, 2005

Zen and the art of flossing

I don't know why I'm blogging about this, it is sure to expose me as the not-entirely-stable person that I am. But, whatever.

A couple weeks ago, I was flossing my teeth, and I suddenly thought about this woman I know who's in her late sixties and is one of those incredibly lively, lifelong-learner type people who you suspect just might turn her house over to the grandkids and join the Peace Corps at the age of 80. She once commented to me that she gets her teeth cleaned four times a year - paying for two annual teeth-cleanings herself, since her insurance company only covers two - because "after a certain age, you just can't afford to take your teeth for granted."

So this conversation popped into my head as I was flossing my teeth one evening, and in that peculiar way that my brain sometimes associates and combines the WEIRDEST things, I also thought about the concept of a "gratitude journal," which I don't keep but I know people who do (like Oprah, whom I don't actually know, but she mentions it occasionally in her magazine). The idea of a gratitude journal is that each evening before you turn in, you write down at least one thing that you're grateful for from that day, because even on the worst day it's good to be reminded of what's good in your life. Supposedly, it makes you a better person.

So these two random ideas - gratitude journals and appreciating your teeth - combined in my head and I found myself trying to think of one thing that I'm grateful for as I flossed between each pair of teeth. And it's kind of become a habit. This means coming up with roughly 30 things to be grateful for each night. Sometimes, when I'm drawing a blank, I cheat a little and repeat myself (I'm really really grateful that other people think the President is a butthead), or I state my gratitude for every single member of my family separately instead of as a group. I always express gratitude for my teeth.

Lately, though, it's been pretty easy. I am grateful that I was able to do laundry today. I am grateful for potable water. I am grateful that I was not forced to abandon my dogs to a horrible death. I am grateful for warm food. I am grateful that I know where my family members are right now. I am grateful for shoes.

And of course, I am grateful for my teeth.

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