A friend recently went to the dentist for the first time in years.

You know how it goes. You’re doing to do this thing or that thing. It’s on your mental list. But this isn’t quite the week, month, season, year, decade…

The dentist was no fun. My friend had an extraction last week. He needs thousands of dollars of work. He was anxious and, in the chair, felt strangely ashamed, as if a better person could have willed his teeth not to break down.

“But the weird thing is I also feel really good about myself,” he added. “I hate going and I dread the many visits that lie ahead. But something shifted in me when I made that initial call.”

Then he added, “I knew in my heart that my life couldn’t quite move forward until I went to the dentist.”

I’ve been thinking about that conversation a lot. Because isn’t it true about a lot of things? We’re like the paralytic by the pool in John’s Gospel, (supposedly) waiting for someone to come along and take us to the healing waters. But the fact is it’s pretty damn comfortable by that pool. We develop vague senses of grievance, self-righteousness, and learned helplessness as we lie there by the pool telling ourselves that we’d take the next step if only someone would….basically take the next step for us.

We try to carry on as if we’re not lying paralyzed by the pool. We bravely “get things done,” “do for others,” and grimly complete our daily chores but deep in our moral conscience, we know something needs to change and we’re terrified. We want interior freedom–guidance and direction for the next leg of our journey–but we know we won’t get it until we take a particular action, specific to each of us: go to the dentist, move into a new apartment, apologize to someone we’ve harmed, file our taxes, clean out the garage: until we take responsibility for our own lives, in other words.

This move to Tucson was one such particular action for me.

I have no idea what lies ahead–maybe nothing much different at all from the life I led in LA.

But a huge inner block/resentment/wound has simply evaporated.

I also have a new dentist!

For now, that’s enough.


  1. Habakkuk 3: 17-19 Thank you! for sharing your heart thoughts, dear Heather!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply


  2. I’m wondering what this inner block/resentment/wound was.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Ha, Michael, oh huge! Had to do with my living situation, garden, and in some sense my whole time in LA–would not serve to go into specifics at the moment and I haven’t sorted it all out in my head and heart yet either. But let’s just say I am glad to be here!

      1. I’m glad you’re here, too.

  3. Karen Armstrong says: Reply

    Dear Heather, What I love so much about your writing is how you find the eternal in the mundane, everyday situations we all struggle with and encounter. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and helping me unravel some of my own mysteries. God bless you.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you so much, Karen–I think Dorothy P mentioned that you were friends–just lovely to have you as a reader.

  4. So very happy for you Heather! I understand exactly what you mean even though I could never put it into words like you do. May your days unfold with more blessings.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you as always, Molly–thanks for sticking with me all these years!

  5. Thank you! I thinking my step into the pool of Bethesda is starting counseling. It’s early days yet, but I can feel it moving things inside of me.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Beautiful, Brigitte–yes, that first step of asking for help–which often turns out to have been there all along…good for you.


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