Yesterday, I scraped away a piece of me that had been dead for six years. Well, technically an endodontist did. Not to worry, I’ve just been doing some long-since-overdue work on my teeth.

I would say that I’m generally not enthused to end up in a dentist’s chair, but I did have a few epiphanies I’d like to share. Who says you can’t be productive while you are staring at the ceiling?

A riyal of prevention is worth $1787.35 of cure.

Not that you could find anything in the Kingdom that would benefit your teeth for a riyal, and prevention in this context would most likely cost you between 100-500 SAR. “Prevention in the amount of 100-500 SAR is most likely equivalent to your $1787.35 worth of cure, but only in Saudi Arabia” didn’t have quite the same ring to it. Whatever, I’m a writer not a mathematician (or accountant). You get the idea!

Ok, so I admit that I only brought this up because I wanted to compare the price of dental work in Saudi Arabia to the United States. I’ve had fifteen separate procedures in 2017, including a surgery, and I’ve spent a whopping $1787.35. Now, for my own sake I should have bitten the bullet and done a lot of this ages ago. However, due to Saudi Arabia’s reasonable medical costs, I’m completing all of this work for a fraction of what I would have paid in the States.

There is not a ‘perfect time’, only now.

I spent years shoveling away things I wanted to do because it ‘wasn’t the right time’. Most of those things would have fallen into place had I taken the first step. Ripping off the proverbial bandage is never easy, but there is never going to be a perfect time.

Things tend to snowball – particularly problems. It is always better to just do the damn thing right away. Otherwise, you might end up spending a lot of your free time under the probing hands of a dentist, pondering the meaning of life.

Never let anyone feel like you don’t matter.

If at any time you should find yourself in a situation where your needs are constantly being pushed aside, run. As fast as you can. And don’t look back.

I carried a DEAD tooth around in my head for six years. These repairs were old wounds that began to fester when I neglected them. If I’d give them the attention they deserved when they were small, the damage would have been much less. Even more important, if I’d prioritized myself enough to prevent these issues, most of them wouldn’t have existed. 

Don’t be afraid of pain or discomfort. 

Procrastination is a demon. Nobody likes to be uncomfortable or in pain, but sometimes it is necessary for growth. I’ve delayed quite a bit of change in my life, most of the time because I was afraid. You know what you want and how to get there. Some pain or discomfort is just the price of the trade-up. Don’t let it stop you from getting what you want.

Wounds do not detract from your worth.

My friend Ashley got her tooth replaced during her first year of high school, and told everyone that would listen that she was now 99.9% real. She giggled endlessly the entire time. Ashley was a joker, full of promise and life, and a blessing to everyone that knew her during her fifteen years on earth. 

She passed away thirteen years ago, and I still think about her all the time — more frequently around life milestones or meaningful events. I always think about the life she led, and the one that she couldn’t. All of those seemingly insignificant parts of life that she never experienced, that I’ve been blessed enough to know. I thought about her when the dentist injected my gums, and about how wrong she was. Scars and broken pieces don’t make you any less real. Even when you lose something, it’s a part of who you are. Forever.

No matter how hard you try, sometimes things die. And it is ok to let them go.

It is easy to say, ‘I’ve never had a root canal” or “I’ve never lost someone I cared about” or “I’ve never had my heartbroken” or “I’ve never failed”. If you’ve lived your life, it is very difficult to say those things and actually mean it.

My poor brown tooth served me well. We had many meals and years, but it was time to part ways. I cherish the memories, knowing that my past is part of who I am. The space in my gums won’t stay empty forever, and will be replaced by something stronger, and a bit whiter. Hollowing out my tooth was not exactly what wanted, just what I needed.