The Wisdom of Flossing.

June 25, 2020

The Wisdom of Flossing.

May 29, 2023

I have a confession to make. I don’t have the world’s best breath. It’s not camel breath. It won’t drop you to your knees. But by no stretch of the imagination is it inviting, which explains why, in my house, I tend to get the cheek much more than the lips.

But, today, all that changes. I am once again getting serious about flossing (eight out of nine philosophers, including Chip, believe that flossing will lead to a more meaningful life).

Of course, we all know what happens if we don’t floss—tooth decay, gum disease, and maybe even our teeth spending the rest of their nights soaking in a glass of warm water. But, in the spirit of the Baja metaphor, flossing is so much more than dental hygiene. Flossing is a symbolic reminder that one infinitesimally small act can become an expression of a better life.

Flossing shows us where change begins—with ourselves—deep down in the places we never look. I’m guessing most of us only properly floss the front teeth. They’re easy to get to, and it’s all the world sees. But it takes a real warrior to floss the hardened plaque in the back. To care about the stuff nobody sees. This is where your Gandhi’s and Buddha’s live (and MEA alumni’s), that rare breed of flosser who isn’t afraid to go to the dark recesses in the back of the mouth.

If we genuinely want to change our worlds, we need to seek out all the things we don’t want to look at. The stuff we ignore. Maybe it’s the things we wish we were doing with our lives but aren’t. Or the fears we hide. The lies we tell ourselves. The self-doubt we allow to control us. Go ahead and pick your own bits of plaque. There’s plenty to floss.

And, yes, it’s tough to dig deep—to get the string in the back of the mouth. It’s awkward. It hurts. And it often bleeds. But that’s where the bacteria lives. It’s also where you’ll find the root of your wisdom teeth. Where the breath gets sweet, and meaning is found.

Let flossing each night remind us that all change starts small and with ourselves. Let flossing remind us that even the tiniest action can make a difference. Together, let’s boldly wrap that floss around our fingers and go change the world—one piece of string at a time.

Bill Apablasa is a two-time MEA alumni and creator of Oxygen Buzz, where he writes about living a creative and awakened second half of life.

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