The High Price of Dinosaur Teeth

It’s not essential to the story but it’ll be helpful if you understand I’m writing about the cutest 6 year-old ever.

This is definitely augmented by Jesse’s often wearingSpiderman costumes and that––although he initially seemed confused by the name “Vlad”–he totally loves my dog.

During the school year our morning schedules were particularly in synch.

Along with his very beautiful young mother, Jesse, Vlad and I often shared the elevator on his way to kindergarten and our respective morning frolic on the baseball field.

This week, however, he offered something that piqued my curiosity.

Namely, he was eager to show me a white triangular pendant on his neck, which I, of course, admired.

Then as we departed the elevator, he also asked me if I knew what it was.

Since I did not, he volunteered to my genuine surprise that it was a dinosaur tooth.

Delighted at sharing this, he smiled and waved goodbye.

Since the theme I’m exploring this month is Freedom––New Meditation HERE––I’ve also found myself getting entangled in (or at least contemplating) its opposite states.

One of these experiences involves an acquaintance I haven’t seen in years who is super-active in social media, posting about a passion project that has been doomed from the start.

I confess my tendency to rubberneck this ongoing disaster, perhaps in part because the advice I gave a decade ago was both scoffed at while ultimately proving prophetic.

Even so, it’s still very hard not to crave an internet “Snap Out of It” moment, when post after post reveal greater disconnects from reality.

They are deeply tangled in delusion and I (and their other followers) have to resist the urge to rescue them from the quicksand they have self-selected.

Difficult as it is, it’s important to respect that this is the mud bath of their choice.

Of course, once Vlad and I arrived on the baseball field, as soon as he and Moon greeted each other and switched balls, I felt compelled to google“Can you buy dinosaur teeth?”

To my surprise you actually can, with prices ranging from $12,500 for a 2.5 inch serrated Tyrannosaurus (or T-Rex) one found in Montana to $27 for a 1-inch Sauropod’s from Morocco.

It’s all very legal apparently and the site I found even guaranteed their authenticity.

It seems that there are a lot more teeth available than bones because not only are they more durable, dinosaurs had more of them and often shed them.

In fact, while that T-Rex had 50-60 teeth in his jaw (and this one was comparatively small since they could often be 10 inches), your typical Hadrosaurs had 900, and beyond this, breeds like Sauropods could go through an entire set in a month.

Yet what was most striking from my quick dog park paleological research was that all the teeth available were jagged and messy, not the smooth, white and perfect triangle like Jesse was wearing.

I didn’t need to channel Ross Geller to know that Jesse’s new pendant was definitely less than 245 million years old.

Last week, I wrote HERE about how one columnist described scientific studies which proved that no one is really thinking about you all that much as “Absolute Freedom.”

Another friend posted that same caption––Absolute Freedom––about this poem I really love by Louise Erdich, winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

I’m delighted to share it here:

Advice to Myself

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator and an earthen scum harden
on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic—decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth or worry if we’re all eating
cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in through the screened windows, who collect patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

I particularly love the final line about shattering “this ruse you call necessity.”

I’m trying to experience more freedom around that, particularly when it comes to doomed tasks like settling psychological accounts or “finally setting the record straight.”

One exercise that can help with this is writing the letter you want to receive from someone else, the one that contains the sincere apology you crave or the taking of some tiny share of responsibility for a messy past.

I’ve done that once before and it was actually surprisingly and deeply satisfying.

I contemplated writing another one recently, only to find myself horrified and amused by something the FBI’s chief profiler of serial killerssaid to Anderson Cooper on CNN.

Apparently, without fail, every perpetrator she’d ever interviewed always had “a favorite victim.”

Perhaps if I do write another such letter to myself, that would be the perfect way to address it––“Dear Favorite Victim”––both affectionately and ironically self-aware, simultaneously exposing and releasing one’s own self-entanglement in ancient drama.

In a way, it’s calling your own bluff.

Of course, the next time I see him, I will be delighted to admire Jesse’s dinosaur’s pendant and/or Spiderman costume once again.

It’s extraordinarily easy to allow a six year-old their fantasies.

(Plus it would be wildly unnecessary and insanely cruel to do otherwise.)

At the same time, I’d like to become much better at granting those with a few more decades of experience the same grace regarding their delusions and inaccurate accountings.

Why not let them carve their fantasies into the marble walls of Facebook?

If they want to believe plastic still fresh from the factory is actually pre-historic, so be it.

It’s essential to allow others their misconceptions and their follies.

In a way, the past is a fossil of a different kind, and unlike my dinosaur research website, I cannot vouch for its absolute authenticity.

That’s why my favorite Polish proverb has always been “Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy.”

(If your slavic languages are rusty it translates to “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”)

For me, fully embracing that would be a giant step towards Absolute Freedom indeed.

Namaste for Now,

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