Saturday, June 07, 2008

Changing the Past

I don't really like my dentist. That's not to say I don't like her as a person -- she's actually very nice -- but I don't know if she's actually that great a dentist. To make things worse, every time I see her, she tries to get me to let her do some expensive procedure that I don't think I need. So when it's time for my next appointment, I think I'll go to a new dentist.

I don't know what it is about dentists -- I never dreaded going to the dentist, but apparently a lot of people do. My dentist must realize that a lot of people have an aversion to dentistry because she tries to pamper her patients to make their appointments seem like spa treatments. As a matter of fact, she refers to her practice as a "Dental Spa" -- if you look it up in the phone book or on the web, that's what it's called.

I don't particularly like being pampered, though. It goes against my nature. So when she asks me if I want to watch cable TV while she's working on my teeth, I always say no. And after she's done, she always asks me if I'd like a hot towel over my face. The first time I saw her, I opted for the hot towel, but it didn't do a whole lot for me, so after that, I always politely declined.

I saw her last week, and before she began cleaning my teeth, she asked me, "Are there any changes to your medical history?"

I told her there weren't, but as I was answering, it occurred to me that there are never any changes to anyone's medical history, since it's impossible to change history. Or maybe it isn't inherently impossible, but given today's technology and our current understanding of time, it's for all intents and purposes, infeasible.

If I could change history, I'd probably change two or three things right off the bat, and maybe more if I gave a little thought to it. And I'm just talking about my medical history. If I could change my entire history, I wouldn't even know where to begin. I'd keep most of it, but I'd probably get rid of a few bad decisions and youthful indiscretions here and there. It would be nice to be able to undo all the things I shouldn't have done, and to add a few things that I should have. And if we could all take back the things we've said or done that unintentionally hurt someone else, I can only imagine what a better place the world would be.

But for now, we're stuck with the world we've got, and we're stuck with who we are. We can't change the past -- we can't even change our medical history. As a matter of fact, we can't even change our dental history. So brush regularly, don't forget to floss, and get a new dentist if you don't like the one you have. This may become less important in the future, when we can go back in time and correct all our mistakes, but at this point, it's the best we can do.