Perhaps you’ve heard about the Blizzident, the newly minted must-have for those who have it all: a nifty device that promises to clean your teeth more efficiently than brushing and flossing combined, and to do so in record time.
For $299, you can acquire your own bespoke state-of-the-art apparatus, invented, according to the marketing website, by a “worldwide interdisciplinary team of dentists, engineers, computer scientists and dental prophylaxis experts.” You insert your custom-made Blizzident like a mouth guard and grind the teeth against it for a mere six seconds. A plethora of tiny bristles get quickly to work and – viola – your gums and pearly whites are good to go.
While met with some skepticism, the product has received enormous media attention and interest, and apparently consumer demand as well; the website asks for patience from those requesting additional information on the newfangled contraption. Crafted of high-grade plastic by a 3-D printer from an impression or scan patients obtain from their dentist, the Blizzident promises fresh breath and “perfectly clean teeth.” However, it’s the “massive time saving” that’s apparently the draw for many. According to the website Extreme Tech, converts of the new device could cut 55 hours per year devoted to dental care.
Imagine that! Freedom from the drudgery of brushing your teeth.
How is it that we are so time-challenged that we begrudge the few minutes per day necessary for low-tech care of our choppers? For apparently, in this free market, there are enough people willing to spend hundreds of dollars or Euros – it’s a global initiative here -- on such a convenient gizmo.
And what are we likely to turn our attention toward, given those extra hours per year?
Here’s a quick look at how we divide our time currently, courtesy of New Media Trend Watch: we Americans spend roughly 4.5 hours a day watching television; 2.5 hours on-line, and the better part of an hour with a mobile device at our ear or in front of our eyes. Nearly 8 hours a day, then, we’re plugged in.
I’m as guilty as anyone. I wouldn’t miss a few favorite shows, and occasionally the television blares on from another room, just to break the stillness in the house. I post batty photos and observations to Facebook with regularity, check e-mail nearly on the hour while working at the computer, and grab my iPhone as soon as I hear that Pavlovian ding indicating someone close has sent a text. But I haven’t reached the point of taking the phone into the bathroom. I can still tolerate a few moments of silence while brushing and flossing.
I’m wondering if that in itself isn’t part of the (unconscious) appeal of an expensive, time-saving absurdity; not that we could make shorter work of an innocuous and already short task, but that it lessens the moments spent looking into the mirror alone with our own thoughts. We don’t on the whole highly value moments spent quietly idling, in solitude, devoted to introspection; certainly little in society encourages us to consider those lulls in productivity worthwhile. “Time is money,” Franklin said, and we unmindfully concur.
And it can be scary, having too much time on your hands. “I just start thinking about myself,” says Carol the waitress in As Good as It Gets, “and what good does that ever get anybody?”
Julia Cameron, author of the acclaimed The Artist’s Way, offers a useful tool that not only empowers creativity, but helps overcome the fear of facing that time alone thinking about yourself. The practice of writing “Morning Pages” – three longhand pages of whatever crosses the mind – can help a person ‘become acquainted” with not only positive thoughts but also the darker side of consciousness – the fear, anger, and pettiness we all possess. The not so attractive face we might not want to see staring back from the page, or from the mirror. The face of the inner self we need to look upon closely, to live that examined life worth living.
For many years, I’ve kept a journal, most recently more off than on. Morning Pages as Ms. Cameron describes them are quite different, though; I find them more challenging. They’re not a record of events, and not, as she says, meant to be artful, but an opportunity to meet your shadow self, to tap into your creative energies, and to – each day -- take one step closer to discovering your bliss, what really moves you in life.
The practice takes a good twenty or thirty minutes to do well. There is no time-saving Blizzident equivalent for cleaning out the cobwebs of the psyche.
This column appears in the November 2013 issue of The North Star Monthly. Check out their site: www.northstarmonthly.com