I broke one of my bottom-left molars a couple years ago.
But instead of taking the time to consult a dental specialist and have the necessary work done to repair the problem, I shrugged my shoulders and leaned back into the grindstone. Such things, I reasoned to myself, are luxuries for those with more disposable income and less obligations.
There was only a trifling amount of irritation and no significant blemish in my appearance. I told myself that I could perhaps look into the matter at a later date, when circumstances made it more convenient — or even more of a priority.
An ache which, at first, only existed as a mild twinge in the back corner of my consciousness eventually became a rare but insistent interruption … especially when I would bite off more than I could chew.
In the last year or so, the problem has only become more apparent. The tooth has taken on an increasingly bruised discoloration and even the most incidental contact would send the synapses in my brain firing on all cylinders.
When I paid a visit to the emergency room Monday afternoon (after nearly passing out from how severe the pain had become) one of the first things asked of me was: “So, uh, when were you going to get around to getting this taken care of?”
“Eventually…” was all the wit I could muster in the throes of my misery.
“Well, it’s eventually now,” the doctor responded.
If one looks around at the state of things in our present Age with any degree of skepticism, you cannot help but see numerous matters of concern.
Taking a broad view, I wonder at how backwards our times seem. We misconstrue masculinity to mean machismo, conscience for comfort and wonder for ambiguity.
But these are cultural impressions more than anything else, and far have deeper philosophical underpinnings.
“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” (from “The Great Law” of the Iroquois Confederacy).
My ancestry is the usual American mongrel hodgepodge of Celtic and Germanic peoples, save for one branch which extends back several generations into the deep dark woods of the great northeastern woodlands: the Iroquois.
The Iroquois tribes were a forward-thinking people. When they came together in councils, the question that permeated many of their decisions was centered on the concept of a “seventh generation” that had not yet been born.
For them, it was foolish to make any immediate decision for the tribe without considering its far-reaching implications.
No doubt there are a number of means to an end that one might pursue, but what impact will those means make upon those that come after? Moreover, what about the ends as well?
I know of a man within this county of a venerable old age, a man who is laboring zealously for the good of his community, without much thought for how it will benefit him directly.
A few days ago, I asked him about his motivations.
“So many of the goals you’re working toward, there’s no way you’ll live to see them come to fruition, even if you live well into your 100s.”
In response he said, quite simply, that his ambition is not for himself, but those who come after.
“When they are in charge, it will be their job to take it to the next step for their children, and their children’s children,” he said.
In my own comings and goings, it is my pleasure to encounter a number of people who are thus engaged.
With the much-needed guidance and oversight required, there are barely enough of the few within the many who are working in the present with an eye for the future.
In cities and towns throughout Rusk County, there are as many opportunities as there are challenges.
One only has to look around to see what work there is to do.
Just as my own tooth has begun to deteriorate from within, so too will our communities begin or continue to fall apart if we are not about the task of strengthening them.
While a simple root canal will remedy my own painful malady, it will take more than just one or two dedicated individuals to tear down the decay, repair what has crumbled and strengthen things anew.
Sure as each day has enough trouble of its own, we should yet be aware of the signs of the times.
It’s “eventually” now.