Memory, Writing, and Going to the Dentist

“….writing is about memory and the storage of memories, more than about communication”

John Rogerson

Perhaps this idea that writing is more about memory and the storage of memories, rather than communication, is why I find it necessary to write, but also why my writings, or any one else’s writing for that matter, do not necessarily make sense to those who read them.

But, I do like the idea that writing helps us to collect, and possibly to preserve our memories. I am very thankful that I don’t have to publish what I write at all, or at least not until I feel that what is written is ready to be read by others. The most important thing for now is to participate in the practice of allowing out the words that carry my memories, and then paying enough attention to what I have written, so that I may learn something from myself. Then…. if I did learn something from myself, or rather from my experience usually with others, then, perhaps it will be published. IF anyone reads it, …that is entirely another matter.

Part of the gift of being up here on Whidbey Island is that this kind of natural space and speed of life make it more possible to pay attention learning from one’s writing, and to actually get to the practice writing.

I know that I am still some place in the middle of a process of discerning that and what I want to work on as a writer. Much of the writing that I do simply comes up in the course of the rest of my life — preparing to teach, as part of my work around the Doctrine of Discovery, preparing for various liturgical occasions… such as Walter’s memorial that is coming up, and the work that I am doing with a national committee of Episcopalians on “Episcopal Generations…” for next summer’s General Convention. All of it is writing, and some has the appearance of being more important or more “real” than other parts of it.

But I suspect that it really doesn’t matter….so long as I am writing.

I went to a new dentist this morning, and I am still trying to make sense out of that experience. One possible interpretation is that now that I am 65 years old I am simply out of touch and that the memories I have of going to the same dentist for close to 40 years are no longer a useful guide against which to measure today’s visit to a new, very young, dentist. That may be the case. I really do not know how to be able to tell.

What I do know is that in many years of going to a dentist, since the age of 4… I have never before left the dentist’s office feeling bad about myself because my teeth, along with the rest of me, are no longer young.  Some how… and it may simply be my unrealistic expectations based on the past which some how no longer matters, I came away feeling that all that mattered was that I spend a LOT of money to have things done to my teeth that I don’t actually understand, and have never before been recommended to me by a dentist.  Some how, the rather intimate bond between my teeth and the rest of me was not acknowledged in a way that I recognized.

Or perhaps, it is that only now that my dentist of nearly 40 years has retired, only now do I have a very strongly formed appreciation for the absolute value of welcoming those who come to spend a lot of time, and even more money, with their mouths gaping open before you, so as to build up a bond of trust, comfort and connection that goes a very long way to softening the harshness of seeing pictures of the holes in one’s head?

About kathrynrickert

Possibly from watching the movie Bambie at the age of 6, I have had a life-long awareness that saying ONLY nice things, does not make the world just or kind. Thus, my 2009 doctoral dissertation..."Talking Back to God" , is one of the main aspects of the work I do. Always interdisciplinary, seeking connections across borders that are usually marked with DO NOT ENTER, I seek to pay attention, pray, think, create,and imagine using biblical laments, Christian worship texts, and the ordinary stuff of everyday life.
This entry was posted in God at Work, God in Creation, God in Relationships, God in Struggle and Distress, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Memory, Writing, and Going to the Dentist

  1. Kathryn, I’ve had the same experience with a new dentist that you had. I think it would be helpful to these young people if they had coursework that opens their eyes to the fact that their elders experienced a vastly different standard of care in their youth. We still took care of our teeth, but hey, our 60+ teeth are what they are, and we don’t go to the dentist to walk away embarrassed and belittled. I’m sorry that happened to you (and I),
    On a personal level, I’m still getting used to the fact that I’m now older than all of my health practitioners.
    I’ve delighted in your stories of Whidbey Island, a place that I dearly love. One of these days, perhaps! The wordpress account that the reply box insisted upon using is one that is in place now to couple with a book that I am writing and will soon self publish. Guess what it’s about? The blog I’m writing in regularly right now is this:


    • Hello Sandy,

      Yes… yes. I suppose I / we.. should be able to laugh at this.
      There are things about it that are actually VERY funny.
      But… it really does not and should not be that way.
      The very sad part …is if this continues to be the way it
      is when one needs such “services”.. many of us will decline their “help.”

      I will have to check out your blog/ book. thanks for the comment.

  2. jene26 says:

    Excellent post. Love reading your blogs. You do a very nice job.

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