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At 7:20 A.M., I awoke with this healing dream:

It is evening. I’m walking outdoors, anxious. My tooth aches and my dentist’s office is closed for the day. Out of the blue, another dentist sees my distress and offers his treatment: laughing gas. Despite its unfamiliarity, I agree. After injecting my body with the tiniest of pinpricks, the tooth pain is gone, and we resume walking.

The dream’s time, evening, suggests my waning energies, all the more depleted by my terminal illness. My toothache, a disorder that pains me, suggests my inability to chew deeply through experiences, to avoid matters that command my attention, even hold anything in place—an irritant that sours my mood and plunges me into self-pity: nothing matters other than the diseased tooth.

The toothache also suggests weeks of being out of sorts, soured by my new symptoms and side effects of a new drug.

The dentist, unknown from reality, suggests “a power greater than myself that can restore me to sanity,” or in other words, the Sacred disguised beneath the practitioner who knows my distress and offers specific help, laughing gas. The numerous pinpricks, barely felt, suggest cues toward deeper practice of the Twelve Steps and the rediscovery of the joy of living.

My healing astounds me and together, we walk into the evening, enjoying dusk’s sky-colors through bare branches of trees.

(Sir Humphrey Davy, early nineteenth century English chemist and inventor, colloquialized nitrous oxide into laughing gas, a reaction caused by inhaling it.)

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