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11:36 AM - Thurs 4.13.17
Reflections On Teeth And Non-Belief

Reflections On Teeth And Non-Belief

My teeth feel funny.

The composite material on the back of my teeth feels, in places, like something "stuck in my teeth" that I would normally remove (with a toothpick or some floss), or by the same token, something that could work itself loose on its own.

(That said, I've brushed my teeth 17 times since that trip to the Dentist, and it hasn't "worked itself loose" yet. And if there actually is "excess material" hanging around - which is the way it feels between the eye-tooth on the right and its next-door-neighbor incisor - I imagine the good Doctor O. will address it when I see her on Monday, particularly since a cleaning is one of the items on the agenda)

And the eye-teeth, due to the fact that there's now just more "stuff" there, are taking up more space and...well, let's just say I've been constantly aware of them the past week-and-a-half (Particularly the one on the left, which even though it's now more on a plane with my other teeth, feels as though it's sticking out of my mouth).

Nothing hurts mind you (Though my gums on the left side were tender for a day or two, and for a time, I had the unnerving sensation that, if I tried, I could just reach in and pull that eye-tooth out with my fingers). It just feels...weird. It doesn't feel normal, but it also doesn't hurt - It's just a question of the "landscape" being different.

But as long as things work, and do not hurt, I can deal with things feeling "weird" if it means a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

So, I assume things are going the way they should...though I did have a slight misadventure with the temporary crown on my bottom left molar on Saturday.

I'd been told not to eat anything hard or chewy till I got the permanent crown in...but I thought I knew better, and was chewing gum while at work that morning - "I'll just chew on the other side. It'll be fine. Cause of course, there's no way I'll forget and start chewing on the wrong side" - when I started chewing on the wrong side, and felt the crown get pulled out.

So I had to slip out of work early (Cause the dentist office was only open till 1:00 pm) and have that tacked back on

(Wow, that was a lot of boring-ass shit about my teeth, wasn't it? Sorry about that, but what can I say? That's "what's going on" right now.)

For maybe the first time ever, I'm looking forward to going to the dentist Monday. With the cleaning and the cosmetic work on the bottom, it'll be fun to see my new-and-improved smile (Have I mentioned lately how I hope it'll help me book more acting work...? Cause I really, really do. But anyway...)


I've been watching a lot of atheist videos lately - Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, some Richard Dawkins, a lot of "The Atheist Experience" (An Internet call-in show out of Austin, TX), and in the past 24 hours or so, a couple videos where atheists debate "presuppositional apologists", a branch of "Christian Apologetics" I'd never heard of before now (With rhetorical tactics that, to me, just sound like "We have no argument for our position, so we're going to attack logic and reality itself, so nothing can really be discussed". In other words, I think it's bullshit, and am not a fan).

I told a friend on Facebook that I was deriving "comfort" from them (The atheist videos, not the "presuppositional apologists"), and I think that's true - The country is currently being run by evil idiots, many of whom claim to be "Christians", and watching these videos feels like being transported to an "alternate Universe", one where smart, rational people win and logic rules the day.

But the comfort of a more just "Alternate Universe" aside, I'm also still wrestling with the whole "death thing" - fear of the pain and suffering of dying, fear of nothingness, sadness and depression over a pretty meaningless existence, etc.

And I don't know if "reconfirming my Atheism" - or whatever it is I've been doing by watching all these videos - is addressing any of that.

Maybe, but I'm not sure.

I can't, at this point, see that it does anything to address the fear that "Someday - hopefully later rather than sooner - I'm going to be dying, and the "process of dying" is gonna suck".

Those concerns center primarily around the fear of being alone, and being poor, at the absolute lowest point in my life, when I would need the most help, practically and emotionally, and not getting it (I don't want to assume I'm going to be poor forever, or more to the point, worse off than I am now...but based on current projections, it seems likely. Ditto on being alone).

As for "fear of nothingness"/sadness over an unfulfilling life...

On the "nothingness" this point my fear of death, as opposed to my "fear of dying", is almost entirely the fear of non-existence, of being nothing - there might still be a fraction-of-a-percent's worth of "fear of Hell" in the mix, since that awful belief was injected in me at a formative age, or at least a small element of uncertainty as to whether there will something "beyond" death. But the big driver of my current terror is that "One day I will cease to exist", or to be more specific, "One day I will cease to exist, and very quickly it will be as if I never existed".

I can imagine making my peace with the idea that one day I will cease to exist, though I am most definitely not there yet (Do I have a big problem with the fact that I didn't exist before I was born? Is it upsetting that I didn't have any impact on Earth before I was here? Then why should death be a problem? Why do I need to have some continued impact on things after I'm gone?). I do think that Atheism could help with that, depending on how I use that belief - perhaps by not seeing death just as "ceasing to exist" but as "experiencing that which all humans go through" - I have felt like an "outsider" all my life, but in this respect, I will be just like everyone else who's ever lived...then died.

In terms of looking back at my life, at the point of my death, as having been "insignificant" or a "failure" or whatever you want to call it, I imagine one could come to that conclusion from the vantage point of an Atheist or an Agnostic or a Theist or whatever...though as an Atheist, at least I won't have to worry that I'm going to be punished for not making more out of my life, for all the mistakes made and harm done (At least not beyond the anguish I might experience before death).

(In that scenario, I can almost imagine existentially shrugging-my-shoulders and thinking "Well, in any case, it's all over now...". And hopefully, when I'm doing all this summing-up, some good stuff will come to mind as well, and I won't feel so bad or like such a "failure"...but I guess time will tell.)

So I'm not sure if Atheism is gonna offer me comfort at point-of-death or not. Maybe - maybe at that point, I'll just be relieved to be done with all this - but maybe not (But one thing I've gotten from this most recent round of Atheist video-watching is that "Utility is not a reason for belief", which I think I got from Sam Harris - If you're a thinking, rational person, you don't believe in something because it's useful or comforting, you believe in something because it's true, because, to the best of your knowledge, it lines up with the facts).

But I do think Atheism, and not believing in an afterlife, seems a reasonable, moral way to move through the world, the best way to value this life and this existence (as the only one we get), and I wish I'd come to it much sooner, instead of spending most of my life shaking off the vestiges of my childhood indoctrination in Christianity, which I wish I'd never been exposed to (Its taken a long time, but I'm finally at the point with Christianity where I can say "I can't be sure that there isn't a God...but if I'm wrong, and there is a God, I'm as sure as I can be that Yahweh ain't it!").

I really believe that "Life Is Not A Dress Rehearsal" bumper sticker (Or to quote the One Day At A Time theme-song, "This is it. This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball...!").

So what I have to figure out is how to stop being panic-stricken that this is not a dress-rehearsal for the bigger, better life-to-come, but is the life we get, and start figuring out just what "having a ball", with whatever time I have left, means to me.


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