As I thought about leaving the office, a gas mask was strapped on to my face and I found myself completely inverted while they put Vaseline on my lips. I wanted to leave because I had waited an hour for my appointment to begin, the dentist is rude, and I could overhear him squabbling with patients about bills.
This was a new provider, up the street from my school, and basically in "the hood." Basically, I live in the hood. I've heard gun shots, I've seen a car set ablaze, and I've had to call the cops for unidentified visitors, banging on my door and demanding I come out. Why do I live here? It's where my students live and hoping to better serve them, I wanted to be trusted, and so I assimilated. It's actually worked pretty well and given me great insight as to why their homework isn't always complete.
Back to hood dentistry. No one spoke a word about the root canal. One minute I was thinking about taking off the bib, and the next minute I was thinking I bet it's hard to sue a doctor who uses laughing gas with malpractice. What could I possibly know?
At first, I couldn't really breath. And then I was drunk and thoughts were racing. And I was laughing.
I thought: and here it is, I bet you didn't know this hood dentist was going to teach you things about true Zen today, and that pain is nothing but up and down and impossible to get rid of, as you're drunk, numb, but pain still resides, and no, your lip did not tear, no they didn't just yank out the same tooth five times, as if mountains of molars existed deep in your gums, and pain is nothing but up and down, and if you can meet it where it is, up or down, you can be here and now.
Felt insane, but very present. Felt out of body, like the 12th hour of Zazen. Thought, why sit when I can pay for laughing gas?
It was scary, like driving 120 miles an hour and pushing on to see if the car will do 140. Realized that Zazen without a teacher, without dharma, might be like laughing gas- wreckless, convincing, dangerous.
I'm happy to know Zen is everywhere. I'm happy to feel my feet again.