Today, I had four fillings replaced to the soundtrack of Johnny Clegg and Savuka's Cruel Crazy Beautiful World album, Capitol records, 1989. When they injected me, despite surface numbing material, the epinephedrine made me shake. I had either never encountered epi before, or, I had but my body is more sensitive now. For 10 minutes, I had some pretty serious convulsions and numbness going on in my legs and arms, hands and feet. It was gross, and scary, and the whole time I just kept breathing and listening to One Human, One Vote, and Jericho.
Shots are the thing that usually freak me out the most. I got one tattoo when I was 18, and I got high off it. When I got my nose pierced at 22, I felt a little more queasy about it, but that's understandable, I thought. But by my second tattoo at 26, I realized, maybe I'm not so good with adrenaline. My housemate loves to joke that I am the anti-coke, that I love to spend hours sitting and staring at walls for fun (thanks also to J for noting that one, and respecting it). So in a weird way, though I am sure it's not the cause, it doesn't surprise me that epi freaked me out. But it sure was scary. The dentist, Dr Golden Vu (yes, beautiful name, isn't it?) was super wonderful, and so was his assistant. But hey, it's a suck ass experience, regardless.
It *is* a Cruel, Crazy Beautiful World. When I was in Guyana a few years back, my friend Mark noted how much his small village, Canal #1, was just like his rural hometown in a lot of ways, back in the States. "Only here," he extrapolated, "there's no room for disgusting things to hide. Death, illness, the whole range, is all out here, splayed under and next to hibiscus and love." Best dentist ever, worst experience ever. All the while, up at the capitol, a rally was raging, the best rallies of my generation (and we've had some doozies what with the WTO and such) happening, the most inspiring work being manifested, about the most dire human rights issue in America (yes, the Americas) today: direct exploitation without compensation by the most powerful country in the world on its own turf. Joy, sorrow.
It seems such a trope. I know. But just in case it wasn't hammered in (oh yes, hammered in - they had to get that tooth-colored stuff deep into my new de-cavitized molars), goddess-sent Birdfarm and wife brought me for a co-op take-out buffet, and while I moped about numb and slightly sore, still whimpering over my speed overload, I felt loved. We watched Saving Face, a surprisingly subtle and quite charming lesbian film, and munched (well, I mostly sucked and mooshed). I know that trauma makes great openings. It is tempting, and frequent as human behavior goes, to fill it right back up. But sometimes, taking the risk to stay open, despite numbness, despite fear, is the right risk.
It helps that I feel optimistic in general about my life, my career right now. I am starting new classes tomorrow and I am excited. Another new friend and I met this week and he was clear about how much he believes in what I am doing. All of my long-standing friends are taking the transition without a blink, the store included. Yes, there's some painful shifting. Opening of wounds. Numbness. But they are the Right Risks. In fact, on the bus on the way home from chiro today, dreading my big dentist appointment, even wondering for sure, one last time, just one more time, if this decision for my job is the right *financial decision* (always good for a crisis, since who would argue about worrying about money?!), the woman sitting next to me closed her book and I looked, of course I looked, I am a bookseller.
It was this book:
I shit you not.
The Right Risk.
Teamwork and leadership consultant Treasurer-formerly known as the fire-diving stuntman Captain Inferno-here encourages readers to take risks calculated to catapult them out of the lukewarm safety of mediocrity and into "an intimate encounter with the magnificence of their own souls." Treasurer chooses intriguing anecdotes, often from his seven years as a member of the U.S. High Diving Team (which is where he first leapt from a diving board, engulfed in flames, and plunged into a pool 100 feet below) to illustrate how to take good risks. "When we don't take risks," Treasurer says, "we get stuck in a rut of safety. Over time, we become trapped inside our own life, like a pearl confined to its shell." He offers 10 principles to encourage such healthy risks, from "finding your golden silence" (becoming attuned to your needs and identifing intelligent risks) to "exposing yourself" emotionally (embracing honesty and avoiding the build-up of resentments). His clear, colloquial chapters encourage readers to overcome inertia, write "risk scripts" and turn fear into a positive force. Admonitions to go ahead and be imperfect and embrace the possibilities inherent in risks-whether they're professional or personal-should spark many readers to vow to live more deliberately, energetically and authentically, and the questions Treasurer poses to readers at each chapter's conclusion are helpful tools for self-guidance.
I won't read it. I already know how to do it. But what a crazy beautiful validation?