Sunday, March 30, 2008
The Gnashing of Teeth
I got my teeth cleaned last week, and my regular dental hygienist, Pat, asked me how my teeth-guard is working for me. This is the same teeth-guard whose use I ranked #8 on my list of life goals, a couple weeks ago.
I told Pat that after I decided to make an effort to wear it more, I realized I don't need it anymore: I no longer wake up at night with my jaw clenched so tight I'm afraid I'll break my teeth.
"Maybe that's because you quit your job," Pat said. "Studies show that stress is a major factor in teeth grinding."
That makes perfect sense.
An article from the Middletown Bible Church notes that the New Testament uses the phrase "weeping [or wailing] and gnashing of teeth" seven times, and that the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament "says that the root of this term was used 'of the cry of pain of a stag mortally wounded by snake-bite.' "
This gnashing often takes place when one is "cast out into the outer darkness." I think I know the place.
But I didn't quit my geography work because it was stressful.
I quit because I was tired of writing within the lines, and I quit because I could.
The [relative] psychological well being I experience as an American citizen is one of the fruits of prosperity and privilege that I wish everyone could have. I remember a man from Ethiopia who told me that what he liked best about living in the states was that he wasn't afraid all the time.
What he liked least was how lonely it is here.