I was sitting in the dentist’s chair in the spring of 2019 getting a cavity worked on, the most troublesome of three that the x-rays had found. I hadn’t been in for a check-up in over two years, feeling scarce about both time and money, and now I was going to have to pay the price of neglect and cough up some time and money.

Halfway into the process my dentist looked concerned, stopping and frowning. She called an associate into the room for a second opinion and the two of them stared into the hole in my tooth. The usual playful banter and levity in the office had suddenly been replaced by a dense layer of seriousness. They left the room and whispered outside the door, just beyond the scope of my radar. When they came back, they announced in solemn unison that my tooth needed root canal.


I had been going though financial challenges for years, and so the first words out of my numb, cotton-ladened mouth was “How much is it going to cost?” The price quoted made me wish I had chosen nitrous oxide instead of local anesthesia. At over $2000, this was going to drill quite an unexpected hole in the wallet. My thoughts spiraled into fear as I got on a runaway express train bound for my egos favorite vacation place…. Scare City!

I told them to get on with it and get it over with. The procedure, the actual root canal, was nowhere near as painful as my protest and resistance to what had just been served up on my plate. The drama going on in my head was louder and more invasive than the dentist’s noisy drill, as my mind kept spewing out endless variations on the themes of “NO!” and “We’re Doomed!”

Fear, I believe, is always an imaginary lack attack, an ego trip into a future of worst case scenarios. It plays out as a loud, unruly conversation in my head, one that in any moment I could interrupt and end by injecting some faith and coming into the safety and sanity of the present moment, noticing and appreciating all the overwhelming evidence within and around me that all is well.

As A Course in Miracles says ever so plainly: “Trust would settle every problem now.”

And that’s what I decided to do. Inject some trust and some truth, right into my tooth!

Right there in the chair I performed a self-administered intervention, mental, not dental. I allowed my grievances to be replaced by a crown of gratitude, starting by silently saying thank you to the doctors who were using their skills to save my tooth. Then I gave thanks for the opportunity before me to release myself more thoroughly from fear. My gratitude soon spread to include various blessings in my life – my health, relationships, peace of mind, the beauty of being of service on this planet. Finally, giving thanks for the miraculous gift of life itself, I found myself reclaiming my joy and becoming peaceful again.

I spent the rest of the day being playful and joking with others about my adventures with root canal. Friends told me how uplifted they were by how I was not letting this turn of events turn down my spirit. If anything, I was more turned on! My spirits were high because I had remembered that Spirit is my true and only identify, Spirit is the only reality, and everything else in this world is the temporary passing parade of illusion, with no power but the power I give it.

For years I had been a conditional giver of thanks. I gave thanks when things went my way, and withheld my gratitude when life served up challenges, disappointments, or other assorted learning opportunities. But for those of us wanting to use this lifetime for growth and mastery, the situations that stimulate our fears offer our greatest blessing. Healing cannot be found when fear is held at bay in the cozy harbor of our comfort zones.

The experiences our egos shout no at are the very catalysts for awakening, the Zen whacks from a teacher’s stick that inspire us to get present, release identification with ego, and more deeply find and dwell in a peace that is not of this world.

I used to play a game as a child called Hot Potato. Now I am playing it again, this time without the carbs. I am learning to drop my scary hot potato thoughts more and more quickly, sometimes in a Holy Instant. If someone actually threw you a painfully hot potato and you caught it, wouldn’t you drop it at once? If it is our grievances, gripes, and fearful thoughts that cause us mental and emotional pain, why not drop them as quickly as you would a hot potato? The other choice is to nurse them, analyze them, get agreement about them from other egos, and huff and puff in radioactive clouds of righteousness, panic, and drama.


What do you think spreads and kills faster, radioactivity coming from a nuclear leak, or mushroom clouds of fear coming from a mind that has forgotten it’s power source?

Learning to contain and cool down our ego reactors is crucial for a happy and productive journey on this planet. No matter what is going on outside of us, we are always deciding between responding with love or reacting in fear. And whatever we choose, we can always choose differently in the next moment. And the next. We all get reactive and have meltdowns. It’s how quickly we clean them up and shift out of fear that counts.

A nuclear free world begins in our heads, spreads to our hearts, and then goes viral all over the world. When we are planted in our identity as Spirit, no earthly power, especially negativity born of fear, can hurt us. And love, divine love, is our only power, our only security and safety, our only reality. It hurts like hell to contain it, so let’s not. Let’s spread and extend it together.

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