A Tooth-Ache and the Fragility of Existence.

by joelmckerrow


All it takes is an infected wisdom tooth to remind oneself of the fragility of existence. 

So many things kept in equilibrium and when the smallest of these realities succumbs to an off-balance kilter than the whole system is struck down. Just one tiny tooth digging through where it should not and my body cannot shake the pain. My whole self is set upon.

Most often I forget my body, until something begins to hurt. Until headache. Until toothache. I forget my body like we forget the earth, until something begins to hurt. Until Hurricane. Until fire. Until the equilibrium is off kilter.

So we drug up to push past the pain. All week I have performed in New Zealand through throbbing wisdom tooth pain numbed by nurofen and persistence. A friend suggested I just cancel the gigs, but it is not in my nature. I push through regardless. Have always done so. I figure someone, somewhere must need to hear my message and how could I let a sore tooth stop this from happening. My calling holds more weight than my succumbing to the pain. This is the justification. Perhaps I just hold too high a notion of what I bring to the world, perhaps it is only those who choose to persist through pain who reach their destination, or perhaps the drivenness of my ego just needs to take a break.

This earth has no drug to ease her pain. No Nurofen. No antibiotic. But she does have persistence. More so than both you or I. She continues to push through regardless, just as she has done for aeons. Hopeful that someone too will need to hear her message, hoping that someone too will take notice. 

The beginning of this week was spent with Anna Jane. She fights for this earth. Has felt her pain. Feels it inside and all over. She names the reality and points us to the rotting tooth. Forces us to realise that we have eaten too much sugar. She has given her life to such a cause. To the restoration. To the declaration. To making sure we do not numb the pain, but try to find the cause of what ails us.

It is the end of the week and Hannah takes me out upon a jetty and it was beauty and blue and calm water holy. But from the jetty we could see the mountain. Towering above the water. And she tells me of the force who came and massacred the Maori men here. And then the women of the village who refused to be tortured and slaughtered by them so they took their children up to the heights of the mountain and they threw themselves from its cliff and their blood stained the stones beneath. Blood between her teeth. The infection in the mouth of this world is worse than I ever realised. We spit blood out with the bile.

And I tell the crowds who come to see me speak all week of the nameless ones. Those caught in a system. The nearly 25 million currently enslaved in forced exploitation. The nameless ones. The 4.5 million of these who are sex slaves, raped every night. The nameless ones. The 25, 200 new slaves that are made every day in our world. The nameless ones. That is 1 new person who becomes a slave every 4 seconds. The nameless ones. I tell them that every nameless one still has a name.

I am surprised the earth has not spun off its axis, has not given up on humanity and the atrocities that we commit. In truth, there is so much more than a tooth ache here. There is a cancer. There is a fracture down the centre. But still, she perseveres. She pushes through the pain. We persevere because there is no alternative. We have only one race. We have only one earth. And it is Hannah and it is Anna Jane and it is all those nameless, who have a name, who remind me now to not ignore the pain, not to numb the pain, not to run the other way. It is time to face the monster we have made. It is time to get our dentist on. It is the only way we may see this body become whole again, healed again. This body. Our body.

Every part. Every system that keeps her running.

This body. Our body.


Photo Credit (photo of me): Amani AlShaali