Confession: I quite enjoy Lent. Not just for its religious implications (of which I very much grasp the significance), or the required consumption of large quantities of pancakes in order to officially kick off the season (of which I very much grasp the deliciousness), but also for the specific period of time in which I can happily sacrifice a thing or a habit I hold onto perhaps a little too tightly, all the while knowing there is an end in sight. It’s basically a little bite-sized nugget of personal and spiritual growth and as such, I find I can usually get behind it with some success.
Among other things that have more weight and significance, this year I decided that for the duration of Lent, I was going to floss my teeth every day. For those keeping score at home, that’s 40 days of regular teeth flossing. (This just in! This is not interesting to anyone other than me.) It might seem like no big thing to anyone else, but I have, as a result of years of treatment by a highly regarded but greedy and/or slightly incompetent orthodontist, beautiful teeth that are so close together that even the silkiest of specialty floss can’t find its way between them without a high degree of maneuvering, a fistful of shredded floss, a lot of bleeding, and, if I’m being completely honest, the occasional swear.
As a result of the close personal relationship my teeth insist on having with each other, I’m rather prone to cavities between my teeth, and since I’m also prone to having panic-induced crying fits at the dentist, my lovely hygienist gives me a lecture at every visit that basically boils down to “You big giant baby, if you would just floss your teeth like a grownup, your cleanings wouldn’t hurt so much and you wouldn’t get so many cavities! This trauma is ALL YOUR FAULT!” And she would then floss my teeth herself, basically requiring a foot on my chest and industrial shred-proof strength floss and the support of two or three other hygienists, all the while grunting and sweating and saying, “SEE? IT’S NOT SO BAD!”
So. Lent. The flossing. It’s been a little over a week, and the first few days were pretty bad, and I almost gave up, but it’s actually getting better. Less bleeding, less yelling, less hurling the used floss into the garbage can in a fit of rage (note: floss does not actually hurl very well; I would recommend something heavier for a really satisfying temper tantrum). More thoughts of, hey, this really isn’t that bad. More pondering of exactly what else I’ve given up on too soon that really was within my grasp. More daydreams of Lent of 2011, when I might vow to take up Calculus or skiing for 40 days.