My Quest for the Perfect Smile Almost Ended My Life. Opening up a Whole New Perspective.
“All I want for Christmas“: Lesson that I learned to Embrace Imperfections With Gratitude
Now that Christmas and the Holiday Season have officially passed with “El Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos,” It is time to reflect. Some of you may have been delighted with your gifts but opened them up so quickly and moved on to the next without expressing gratitude or thanks.
Some of you may have been disappointed because you did not get what you wanted. Now you will have to do without, buy it yourself or put out the word of your disappointment, hoping you get it for the next special holiday or occasion in your life.
And then again, some enlightened people may have opened the gifts up and expressed gratitude and thanks for each one. This time of year brings me back to a time when there was something that I wanted for Christmas, something no human could give me.
Losing My Baby Teeth
Remember when all you wanted was to have your two front teeth grow in?
Longing for My Two Front Teeth
I recall when I was in first grade. I lost my two front teeth. That Christmas, the song “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” definitely resonated with being high on my Christmas wish list.
The Agony of Waiting
My two little, perfect, white baby teeth were gone, and the wait for my permanent teeth was on. It seemed as though it took well over a year for them to come in. In my first-grade picture, my tightly closed smile had just a hint of upturn edge. I tried to conceal from the world what was missing from my life.
Confronted With Imperfection
Soon after Christmas, I finally received my wish: my teeth came in. Unfortunately, they took so long to come in that my back teeth had shifted, and my front teeth came in crooked.
Be Specific With What You Want
As I look back on it, I realize now that the book “All I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum was accurate. I learned that sometimes when you want something, you will get it, but it may not be what you want.
I Received The Bare Minimum
All I asked for was two front teeth, and I got two front teeth. I suppose I also learned a second lesson back then when you want something to be specific. I should have said all I want for Christmas is two perfectly straight white front teeth.
Be Happy With What You Have
Of course, that is when my parents taught me my third life lesson that you should always be happy and grateful for all you have, for at any moment, you can lose those things you are dissatisfied with, and then you will realize just how important they were even if they were not perfect.
A Parents Perspective
Would you rather have imperfect teeth or no teeth? Yes, those crooked teeth were looking pretty good to me. My Mom and Dad also taught me at that time that I had to have confidence that my outward appearance does not dictate who I am.
You must believe in yourself, know who you are inside, and let that little glow shine. Do not let children or adults make you feel bad about yourself. We see in others that which we deny in ourselves. If we only notice others’ imperfections, it is because we deny the imperfections in ourselves.
Right The Wrong – Let’s Get That Straightened Out
However, feeling my oats at the age of twenty-seven, I had forgotten the life lesson I learned. I decided to right the wrong and get my teeth straightened. The orthodontist informed me that he could straighten my teeth out; however, once straightened, my teeth would protrude, resulting in “buck teeth.”
You Said What?
He explained that my mouth was too small and that my jaws had not grown properly. He advised that once my teeth were straight, I would need to undergo maxillofacial surgery to correct my bite.
Nine Hours Under the Knife and Chisel
I decided to undertake the nine-hour surgery, my upper and lower jaw were broken, the roof of my mouth was sawed in half to expand the palate to accommodate my teeth and correct my bite.
After the surgery, it took me quite a while to come out of the anesthesia. When I finally awoke, I had tubes down my nose going to my lungs and stomach, my mouth was wired shut, and the roof of my mouth had a large plastic apparatus over it.
Brink of Death
I remembered the feeling of choking; blue lights started flashing, and an alarm sounded. The room filled with medical staff, and a priest came in and gave me my last rites because I was moments from death!
The very competent staff resuscitated me and broke the stress in the air by laughing and saying, “That’s one way to get attention.” It just wasn’t my time, but it was my time to learn a lesson.
Major Life Lesson
I learned another life lesson. If you work too long on trying to fix one thing to make it perfect, you may lose sight of the big picture and screw up something else. That something else just might have been the loss of my life.
I spent the next two weeks in the hospital with a cardiologist checking on me several times a day. My heart just was not up for the change.
A New Appreciation For Something We Take For Granted
After the surgery, my mouth was wired shut for six weeks. I was unable to speak, unable to open my mouth, unable to close my lips together; I had no feeling in my lower lip and chin, I was unable to use a straw, and had to feed using a turkey baster to squirt fluids between my teeth into my mouth.
- How often did I engage in conversations only now to have to write it down?
- How often have I used a straw and took the suction for granted?
- How often did I open my mouth to put something in it and not be grateful for it?
- How often did I drink from a glass, knowing I could feel it on my lips and that I would not spill it down my blouse?
- How often did I open my mouth, eat, chew, and not be grateful that I could do that?
- How often did I close my mouth, press my lips together, swallow, and take that for granted?
Now, my lips did not close. I carried a napkin to avoid drool running down my face.
Do you take these little treasures in your life for granted?
A Long Hard Road and It Continues Today
It was a long recovery, stretching my lips so my mouth could close, prying my teeth open with a tongue depressor, and hoping my nerve ending would reconnect so I could once again have feeling in my lip to know if the glass I was drinking from was in my mouth.
Take Nothing for Granted. Be Grateful
During this time, I learned another major life lesson. Sometimes, we take the little things for granted in our lives. I never appreciated having the ability to use a straw until I could not close my mouth and use a straw.
There are More Than 7 Wonders in The World
The New Open World Corporation announced the New Seven Wonders of the World, they included the Great Wall of China, Petra, Christ the Redeemer Statue, Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza, Colosseum, and the Taj Mahal. After going through the surgery and the recovery, I realized that the true wonders are the ability to see, hear, touch, taste, smell, feel, laugh, love, and live.
The Gifts We All Need
Now, as we head into a year of holidays and special occasions of wish lists and gift-giving, let’s remember what is most important. It isn’t the gift, the amount of money you spend, or how perfect the dinner or present is.
It is about:
- Accepting the things that are missing (my two front teeth)
- Embracing the things that are not perfect (my crooked teeth)
- Appreciating everyone and everything you have in your life (the seven+ true wonders of the world, hear, see, touch, taste, smell, laugh, love, and life)
- Truly knowing that if we spend our energy bringing out the best in others, supporting others, expressing our appreciation of others, and knowing that the meaning of life is love.
- Be grateful for what you have and who you are. We are like little seeds; we possess everything inside that we need to grow. Do not allow the outside world to change your Power and Essence within.
My start of the New Year wish for everyone is that we all appreciate all the people in our lives, that we take the time to honor the skills we have and the things we can do, and that we make a conscious effort to use our seven wonders to make ourselves and the world a better place.
Are you ready to accept yourself as you are? Embrace your imperfections and find joy in your uniqueness. You are perfect just as you are.