I am staring at the ceiling, thinking of the quote “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” ― Leonardo da Vinci. Well, just yesterday, I also learned that this quote might not have been the original by Da Vinci. The credit goes to who else, but a movie director! I am not surprised, for I had also earlier learnt that "Failure is not an option" associated with the Apollo 13 landing was also from a movie. Movie directors, fascinating people! You know, I have been gazing skywards these past few days Nah, past few months as I watched the daylight reduce day by day with the sky lighting up earlier and earlier. It is not just that Jupiter and Saturn dance that is going on, but also the birds in the sky - the real ones and the manmade ones that have always held my attention. I do not recall ever missing seeing a plane if I have heard it! Our house in my school days was somewhat near an airport and, I have always managed to follow the path of that low flying plane for as long as I could, with my gaze. I would even run out of the house, dropping whatever I was doing to watch that plane in fascination. Now, of course, like most of us, I watch the earth with fascination sitting in an aeroplane, wondering about the way it keeps us all bound to it! That has in no way diminished my love for flight. If anything, it has given wings to my imagination. As the world was getting excited about the great conjunction, the star of Bethlehem, the winter solstice, some of us on that day were only gazing skywards worriedly as the clouds continued to pour down the rain. As I picked my daughter up from her class that evening, to my joy, the sky had decided to clear up even if for a brief period. I had the fortune of enjoying the clouds, the sun, the colors and, the planets moving together in a dance, making me wonder if they are moving in unison or opposition. I also had seen this multiple times during the day to keep that smile plastered on my face. My reverie is broken with the doctor entering the room. I have been inhaling while staring at that ceiling that 'laughing gas' to calm me down. If you read about laughing gas, it says, "when inhaled, the gas slows down the body's reaction time. This results in a calm, euphoric feeling". I am not sure if I should attribute my euphoria to the gas or the events of the last two days. 'She', on the other hand, introduces herself, asks me how I feel and nods to the thumbs up I give, and straight dives into my mouth with her tools before I could even answer her customary "How are you?" with words. As she continues with the procedure, I hear her often reminding me to breathe deeply through my nose. I raise my belly to that ceiling with every breath to her very encouraging murmur of ‘awesome’! I do the same with my yoga students - inhales /exhales, I mean. Do they feel this awesome? It must be the gas. I smile. I know the smile is only in my mind! I think she is fantastic as she continues to focus on my wide-open mouth. It must be the laughing gas! I can tell you this with confidence for a couple of hours after the procedure, only I know the pain I am enduring! I want to think of other things, loosen my hands holding my phone tightly like my life depended on that, shake my legs off. I am scolding myself for not asking beforehand how long the procedure would be and then submitting to the thought that says it is better I did not, for there are certain things we should not know – like the future. To that, I will certainly encourage you to add dental procedures. You will thank me for that. I realize the stillness around me, and, in the silence, I hear the noise the tools are making inside my head. I realize I find that very soothing. That noise has such a command over me that it would not let a thought pass by. I am enjoying and following the rhythm of that whirring and whooshing sounds, interrupted only with a couple of words between the dentist and her assistant. I wish I could see my tools of joy, but like other things I mentioned, I realize better not! I am telling you it is that laughing gas! The 32 pearls in our mouth! What a source of beauty they are! Especially that smile. Now do not even bring up that clenched jaw. If not for those teeth, imagine what our state would have been. As a yoga teacher, I feel the teeth should be thanking me for I remind students in every class to unclench that jaw, relieving the teeth of the pressure. However, I, for one, for the life of me, cannot get over the fact as to how an entire profession has been built based on those teeth! I am even more fascinated with the technology of brushing teeth. Going back to those days when I would look up to the sky watching that airplane go by as I brushed my teeth sometimes just with my finger in the backyard sink, now 'worried about the teeth' current me who uses AI technology driven toothbrush that flashes a red light even if I apply a tad bit of pressure, chiding me that I had applied pressure for ‘those’ many seconds! Does the AI know about the clenching of the jaw at all? Does it understand that our teeth stay way after we are gone? Have they not seen those skeletons, the ones we use in biology for study? Or agreed, the ones we see during Halloween? Does AI have any intelligence? Teeth cannot take the pressure of some soft bristles!! Blaah! Now, if you are wondering about the brush, believe me when I say it is a gift. I would never buy it myself! Left to me, neem bark or simple tooth powder on my fingertip aggressively against my teeth would be my choice! Teeth aren't that dainty ....until you have to see that dentist! I have been cleaned up, meaning all the tools holding my mouth wide open have been miraculously and very quickly removed. I am asked not to get up as they pumped in fresh oxygen. As my euphoria comes down and I land back on earth, I realize that I do want to know about the tools. In fact, I have a few questions to ask even, both about the tools and the procedure. After all my mouth feels nothing! I feel it may even be swollen. Is it bleeding? Is there a mirror? What did they do to me? But who am I kidding? We are talking of a dentist here. You see the tools are being put away while I breathe in fresh oxygen and, just like that the dentist has also walked out to deal with her next silent patient or is it silenced patient, not giving me an opportunity to answer even her simplest of questions she had asked before the procedure. As I get up, take my purse from the hook, and turn around, I realized that I could not even say bye to the assistant coherently! I also realized that I could never be a dentist - only because I could never ask a question and not know the answer to that question! Dentists sure have a knack to live in the questions of the world. Who else can keep your mouth open, yet not allow a sound from your mouth to come out and laugh in their heads going “Gottcha!! You can do nothing about this!!” Speaking of questions, even as I typed Merry Christmas to all of you, I wanted to know why merry, why not happy? And if you are like me, all I can say is do not go snooping on that www now.You will only get caught in its whirls, not that I did not enjoy it! As I think of this title, this very long snippet going out of orbit, about real orbits out there, planets and what not, I do feel as long as we have that goal of feeling centered or being centered drawn to that one center, just like the planets drawn to that sun – no matter what’s happening in our outer worlds, inner cores or neighboring worlds, we can all stay in orbit and bring joy to one another. There! I had to philosophize! Sigh! Seriously though, as we say bye to this 2020 and usher in a new year, let us all pray for health, wealth, and happiness for one another. A Happy 2021 everyone! Much love and joy to all of you!