Dr. Leonard was about to trim down an old tooth for a crown and I was all numbed up, listening to the Beatles—Abbey Road—on small headphones. About halfway through, I began to feel the drilling. It wasn’t bad, but I was afraid the drill would hit the nerve and get much worse. Nerve pain in a tooth is such a piercing thing. There it was—a sudden jolt of sharp pain overcame my whole being, radiating out. You can never see it coming and there’s nowhere to go. I raised my hand while making a guttural sound. Dr. Leonard said, “You feeling that?” and gave me more Novocain and we were back on our way.
As he kept drilling, my mind began to reverberate. At times, I’m so afraid of feeling anything, but at the same time I so want to feel everything. There—with my mouth wide open, with George Harrison singing “Here Comes the Sun” in my ear, with the soft eyes of Dr. Leonard and his assistant Kari so carefully focused on the exposed nerve in my head—I realized that the tension of living often comes down to this paradox we all carry between our fear of feeling anythi …
This excerpt is from The One Life We’re Given (Atria).
Mark Nepo moved and inspired readers and seekers all over the world with his #1 New York Times bestseller The Book of Awakening. Beloved as a poet, teacher, and storyteller, Mark has been called "one of the finest spiritual guides of our time. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages.