I went to the dentist this morning like I do every six months and, like I do every six months, found myself struggling to answer the polite small talk with two hands and lots of metal equipment in my mouth. Jokes aside, I truly enjoy going to the dentist. I’ve never had any issues with my teeth and the routine six month appointment is nothing more than a confidence boost of the fact that I still do a sufficient job with my personal dental hygiene.
However there’s a certain point at every visit where I feel like I’m being tested. After they’ve done the poking and picking and flossing, the dental hygienist reaches for a drawer and asks, “What flavor of the polish would you like? We have mint, orange, cinnamon…”
[I never understood that. If you’re going to trail off after three choices, at least make the last two better than orange and cinnamon].
I always sit in that chair unsure of exactly what I’m hoping for, but silently praying that there is more to a teeth cleaning than cinnamon and orange.
Now usually, too indifferent to ask her to continue listing flavors, I settle for, “Mint is fine.”
“Mint is fine.”
Even reading the sentence you can tell I’m not down with my flavor choice. I was secretly hoping for Mixed Berry Explosion but you know, if times are tough, I suppose mint is fine.
Today, as I was reclined in the unusually comfortable chair, I found myself again uttering, “mint is fine.”
The second those words rolled off my tongue I regretted them.
You love adventure. You want to see the world. You believe in trying the meal on the menu that you can’t pronounce; why is mint fine?!
So, like any mature and responsible adult, I spoke up: “Actually, I always get mint. Can I try something new?”
Her list continued as she rattled off the flavors they almost certainly save for those under the age of 12, “…vanilla, watermelon, cookie dough, bubble gum…”
Cookie Dough. I like the ice cream, who knows…
“Can I have cookie dough, please? I might instantly regret this decision, but hey why not?”
And the thing is? It wasn’t that good. It didn’t taste like the ice cream or like cookies or like anything that I would want to eat ever. It was almost like a dull wax with sugar. But it was something new. It was something different and as absolutely lame as this sounds, it was an exciting way to start my Wednesday morning.
On a very small scale, I had taken a leap of faith into the unknown and tried something new. In my obsolete case of the cookie dough, it had no bearing on my life after a few hours when I ate lunch and forever rid myself of its waxy after taste, but its lesson should last longer than that.
Why, in so many other more important facets of my life, am I content to be a “mint is fine” kind of girl when I’m really craving some Bubble Gum Surprise?
How often have you sold yourself short of extraordinary in order to be “fine” with something else? Why are you settling for the easy, safe, or familiar path? Shouldn’t you be madly in love with every moment of your life? Shouldn’t every morning make you deliriously happy at the possibilities that surround the day?
So the case of my dentist paste isn’t important. I recognize that. But apply this idea to something bigger and really think about the level of courage it takes to live a life of your own making…something beautiful, real, and honest.
Let’s be done with the “mint is fine” kind of mind.
Let’s instead take the metaphorical leap into the unknown. After all, don’t we have to leave the ground before we can fly?