Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Tooth

I used to share the common fear and dislike of going to the dentist but must admit that with the advances in treatments and anaesthetics it is a largely pain free experience these days.
I had a dental appointment this afternoon.
In Perth.
I normally go to the dentist in Bunbury.
He's the husband of a friend and started treating my badly neglected teeth a few years ago before we moved down south.
As I was coming up to Perth I made the appointment for there.
But when I walked in he had a quizzical look on his face that suggested he wasn't expecting me.
Mr Perceptive was right. He wasn't.
There had been another name in the appointment book and upon ringing one Michael D____ to confirm the appointment he had said he didn't need it so they had reallocated the timeslot to someone else!
Putting two and two together they worked out that the receptionist in Bunbury had written the wrong name in the book and that it should have been mine.
Thankfully he had time to see me and proceeded to repair a tooth with a number of stress fractures in it, informing me at the same time that it is rotated 90 degrees to the right of how it should be positioned. I declined his offer for corrective orthodontory and settled for a filling.
I dribbled the rinse water down the front of my shirt at the end thanks to the total numbness on that side of my mouth, always a classy move.
Several hours later it has finally returned to normal but I can't keep my wandering tongue from exploring the crisp concave new filling on the upper left side.

Something unusual happened on the way up to Perth.
I saw a couple of hitch-hikers.
In my youth I did a lot of hitch-hiking, around Australia, in Europe, and around America twice,
Hitching used to be pretty common.
But not now; it is very rare to see anyone hitching.
No doubt the result of fear and mistrust based on the bad stories of violence rape and murder that have happened over recent years.
But, having been the recipient of so much benevolence and having hitched thousands of kilometres, I will always give people a lift.
So I pulled over and the two blokes got in. They were going to Cockburn and as I would be driving right past there they were happy.

One of them, Dave, had been up in the north west recently, from Darwin through to the Kimberleys and it seemed to have made a strong impression on him. He said he had gotten to know a lot of Aboriginal people on his travels and developed a real respect for them and their culture and traditions. He described it as a spiritual experience and I asked him a bit more about that. He said their connection to the earth and the land, their knowledge of the seasons, their dreaming stories and their connection to family had all had a deep impact on him. It was encouraging to hear a young man talk about some of the deeper things in life and appreciating the spiritual dimension of existence. I despair sometimes at the shallow and meaningless lives many young people seem to live and their ignorance of and disinterest in exploring any of the big questions and deeper meanings of life.
I fear that they are so over-stimulated and electronically entangled they have either missed the things that give life meaning and purpose, they can't see them, or they don't want to see them.
Tuned out on their ipods, cut off from the world around them, and ensnared by the multi-faced fast paced networks online via msn/my space/facebook/twitter etc they don't seem to engage in the real world around them. They seem unaware of nature, the environment, poverty, injustice, reconciliation, hunger, global economics, politics or current events. They don't read newspapers, they don't even watch the news. They lack even rudimentary levels of general knowledge.
The more access they have to technology and toys, the less they seem to know about anything beyond their own little world.

I didn't expect to get on such a rant when I started this post but these are my convictions after many years of working with young people and seeing the rapid and radical changes in the world over the last 20 years.

BTW did you know that Aboriginal people recognise 6 different seasons as opposed to the 4 we in the west are familiar with? I don't know their names.

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