I once asked the mother of a close friend of mine, “Which teeth should I floss?” She happened to be an excellent dental hygienist and I happened to hate flossing. The question, though it sounds ridiculous at my present age, was a genuine question in the moment it was asked. Now, most individuals with even a few neurons firing, realize there are obvious problems with my question. For instance, why didn’t I ask how frequently I needed to floss in order to avoid tooth decay? Gingivitis? Periodontal disease? Duncan Keith’s smile?
The more concerning issue, however, was at the root of why I had asked the question—and that was because I was simply too lazy to floss. I didn’t want to floss and I was looking for a legitimate way to justify my behavior. Use a tongue scrapper? No problem. Brush my teeth twice a day? Usually. Flossing? Quarterly.
I hated flossing like I hated wearing socks with my shoes as a kid. The warm, soft, fuzzy feeling of socks was disgusting. I’d rather get my foot caught in a stirrup and dragged through an apple orchard, than wear socks. Shoes were only worn when it was imperative and the rest of my time was spent barefoot, wild and free. And all these years later, I still prefer being barefoot and have yet to contract Hepatitis C.
Feeling the pressure to floss (yes, I am well aware of the insignificance and pettiness of my former issue with flossing, but please, no #FirstWorldProblems #AtLeastYouHaveFoodStuckInYourTeethWhileOthersDontEvenGetToEat) while having a juvenile distain for flossing, I was compelled to look for a way out, simply because I refused to have a little discipline in that particular area of my life. So, a few days ago when the memory of that conversation popped into my head, I decided to address a couple other areas in my life that lacked discipline and examine the adverse effects that it could have on my future over time.
Sounds dramatic to examine flossing so closely, but think about being disciplined in another area, like your finances. If you save five dollars a day, or 35 dollars a week, by avoiding the usual trip to Starbucks, with a modest rate of return of 5%, in ten years you’ll have $24,036, or a new car; in forty years you’ll have $230,848, or an Italian roadster.
There are ridiculous ways in which we try to avoid tough situations or doing something that we would rather not do; usually, because we lack the willpower and discipline that would be required of us. Apparently, it is human nature to come up with excuses as to why we don’t want to do something, instead of being honest and forthcoming with the real reason. This is quite unfortunate. Since, the sooner we become honest, the more quickly we can move past these hindrances. I’ve provided an example below that highlights these particular behaviors.
Fiction: “I haven’t written for my blog in a while, because I couldn’t decide on a subject to write about.”
Fact: “I haven’t written for my blog in a while, because I had lost interest in it and have allowed myself to become distracted by inconsequential matters.”
The dental hygienist’s response to my question, “Which teeth should I floss?” was, “Only the ones you would like to keep.”
So, the question left to answer today is: At the end of your time here on Earth, do you want to have a smile with teeth in your mouth? Or have a bunch of empty spaces that were supposed to be filled with something important.
Days of consecutive flossing as of January 12, 2014: 446