We were arguing about something; I can't remember what. Probably how many goldfish can fit comfortably into a fishbowl. Or something else of equally intense importance. Whatever it was, it caused a temporary rip in our siblinghood.
The dead tooth got fixed up in pretty short order; today it's impossible to tell anything ever happened. Sometimes at family gatherings my brother and I get together and chuckle about this and other high dramas from the past. He is a rare and wonderful person; I bear not one iota of ill will over the fact that all of his teeth are still alive, while one of mine is deceased. It was a molehill incident: an event no more noteworthy than the fact that Tuesday follows Monday.
And who cares?
Noone, including me. Yet I'm glad it happened; it's a useful footnote. Now, when my day gets whopped by a bag of marbles, I sometimes use the tooth incident to remind me how minute most traumas really are in the scheme of things. It can help (along with the memory of other long-gone bruises) to prod me out of a too-personal view of things.
Of course there are other, similar devices one can use for this same purpose. For instance, whenever this or that (or a cousin of this or that) places a blot on our day, we can pose the ancient philosophical question: "50 years from now, will this matter?" To ask that immediately sweeps the eye away from peering too closely at insignificant events.
And our everyday injuries are, by and large, insignificant. In any given tooth/marble confrontation, there's only that one moment when your mouth stings from the blow. Then the sting recedes, and you're left with two choices: A) make a big deal out of it, or B) forget about it.
Making a big deal out of it wins you attention, sympathy and lots of aftershock to work through. It's the attention part that often impels us to choose A. Sympathy! Warmth! Kind Words! You can see why A beckons to us, even when we have to pay a stiff price for embracing it: wading knee deep in injured feelings for long, ruinous lengths of time.
B is a much smarter choice, but since when have humans been famous for making the smarter choice?
Those who do, though, get a special prize: forgetting about unimportant stuff wins you the freedom to move on to the next adventure. And pay lower tolls on the road.
When the American space program first began sending humans into outer arenas of the universe, several astronauts reported that the trip had a tremendous impact on their mindset. One commented that when he first saw the earth from several million miles away it literally stopped him cold.
He gazed down at the small blue sphere he called home, he said, and suddenly realized how pinsized his house and fence and driveway and troubles were in comparison to the vastness of space. Subsequently, this man has never been able to see things in quite the same way. His brief glimpse of infinity forever altered his perception; ever since that visionary moment, he is inclined to view everyday troubles as rather small particles of dust on the landscape of life.
One quick trip into outer space, and now he is a different person. Freer than he was before he saw the earth shrink into a blue dot.
Freer because he now looks through a larger window; he knows troubles will roll up his driveway and roll back down again. Rain is rain and bugs are bugs and sunshine is sunshine. Whatever comes, he remains focused on the landscape and not on the specks dotting the glass. It's not that he has become a fool; far from it. It's just that now he wears life with a slight grin, because he once had the good fortune to glimpse his universe from a wide-angle shot.
And it's gorgeous.