Yesterday, I started with a visit to the dentist and wrapped up the evening listening to a concert of Hungarian hammered dulcimer and vocals. I never would have believed beforehand that I’d find the same thing at both events.
My general attitude toward getting my teeth cleaned is resentment. Surprisingly, thinking that I shouldn’t have to waste my time in the dentist’s chair does not prevent plaque and tartar from growing in my mouth. My hygienist is extremely conscientious and always tells me places of concern to brush or floss more thoroughly, which I rarely appreciate because I don’t want to spend any more time on the nightly routine than I already do.
Yesterday I was lying there with my mouth open in my usual resentful way thinking that I would hate to spend the day looking at other people’s mouths when it occurred to me what a tremendous gift my hygienist was giving me. It is utterly amazing that someone is willing to stick her fingers in my mouth and scrape plaque off my teeth. It is remarkably generous that she cares enough about other people’s teeth to remind me over and over again to take my time flossing.
At the recital in the evening, the two musicians did twenty or so pieces, and the dulcimer player looked at his music for only one of them. About halfway through, I was thinking, musicians are incredible—how do they keep all that music in their head at once? I couldn’t do that. Then once again an awareness of the immensity of the gift they were giving us in the audience hit me. These musicians were willing to share their abilities with whoever happened to walk through the door.
Before yesterday, I wouldn’t have equated resentment and admiration, but it turns out they can sometimes both be about me. They prevent me from seeing and appreciating the generosity of those around me, from receiving the gifts they are literally pouring out.