As it is often the case with busy people, I sometimes find myself so caught up in what I’m doing and so busy being busy (running a busy practice, going to school (yes, I am still a fully engaged and enthusiastic student), as well as attending to all the other responsibilities and the stuff that keeps the fabric of my personal and professional life from unraveling and my family happy) that I lose sight of the bigger picture; namely the perspective one gains by taking a step back from it all and taking stock.
I’m not necessarily referring to a stop and smell the roses moment, but rather having the need and the discipline to allow for the occasional time-out as a means of taking a personal reality check. Such moments often result in an exercise of conscious introspection that offers someone like me (who ponders the why as much as the how and what) the opportunity to maintain balance, motivation and focus.
Vacations often prompt such trains of thought. Nothing is more inspiring than standing ski-a foot atop a mountain covered in knee-deep snow peering out into an endless sea of azure blue sky and beholding breathtaking vistas of snow-capped mountains. Magnificent sunsets and the astronomical wonders of a clear star-filled summer’s night (hey, did anyone behold Mars, Saturn and Jupiter this weekend? – very beautiful and quite thought provoking.).
But sometimes these moments, call them what you will: time-outs, reality checks etc., can happen spontaneously and unexpectedly during the course of a typical day in the office.
I had such a mini-epiphany just a few short days ago.
As it turns out, last week was particularly awesome week. Winding down my third and final year as a student at NYU’s Implant program, I had just presented my final power point presentation to my fellow participants and faculty. It was a 118-page slide show of interesting surgical and restorative implant cases that I completed during time of study. I was told later that I had more slides than the other five presentations given that day, combined. Perhaps (ok…. definitely) I can be a bit verbose, but I always loved show-and-tell. Give me a microphone, an audience and a platform – well, let’s just say I was in the zone.
I was simultaneously bringing to fruition another NYU surgical case (after a year of planning) in which I will place 15 implants in one single appointment using a sophisticated, minimally invasive technique called guided surgery. No incisions and no sutures. It’s very cool and very exciting. All the while, I have been busy in my office treating many new (thank you for all of your kind referrals) and veteran patients. And of course “luxuriating” in my more recently acquired expertise in the field of implant surgery.
As I was saying, I was having a very fulfilling week when into my office arrived quite independently Arlene D. and Judy L. who are patients of mine dating back to 1984 and my early formative years as a dentist. Then I was the “new kid” in a Forest Hills practice and at age 27 was the youngest dentist in our four-doctor partnership (my other partners at the time were 38, 46, 60 and 67 years old). I remember how somewhat less than enthusiastically both ladies had agreed to be seen by the youngster (that be me). And the rest is history.
Arlene and Judy watched me grow personally and professionally. They witnessed my becoming a father, mature into a family man, and over the years observed my evolution as a skilled doctor and compassionate human being (their words, not mine). They “followed” me to Manhattan when I started anew in 1995 and provided me with the emotional support I needed when I was going through a difficult professional do-over.
So here they were, Judy and Arlene. Beloved patients and friends for more than 32 years in my office on the same day, just hours apart. And so we visited. We caught up with each other and I shared with them the latest update of the most incredible professional and personal odyssey at NYU that was now coming to its fruition (graduation is June 15th).
Coincidentally, independently, and quite remarkably, Judy and Arlen provided me with an unexpected, unsolicited and overwhelming sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. They have watched me “grow-up”. They saw my character develop and my skills grow. They are not surprised by my accomplishments and I feel as if they have been cheering me on not so much as fans (though it did have that feel), but as friends whose trust, respect and fondness I have earned over the years.
What Arlene and Judy gave me was historical perspective. They’ve witnessed my development and shared with me their perspective. And it was a most special gift. The three of us shared an all-important time-out and they took stock for me about me. They didn’t just give me the chance to smell the roses they smelled them with me.
And while I embarked on this educational journey for what I thought were personal reasons, in the end, it is also for my patients like Arlene and Judy for whom I aspire to be the best I can be.
Thanks for reading,