I remember watching Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement address as a dental school applicant who was hopeful (and a bit scared) about her future. In it, he spoke of three lessons he wanted to impart on the graduating class that year. The first, the one that resonated the most with me then, and continues to echo down the hallways of my life now, was about connecting the dots.
In his speech, Steve said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
The last 20 months have brought about a season of change that many thought would never happen in their generations. A global change in not only the way we live our lives, but also how we look at each other, and the world. And yet, through the sometimes dark, but very often gray areas we’ve each lived through, light and love still break through.
I have made new friends around the country, reconnected with people I haven’t spoken to in years, and found a path for myself in “dental-land”(what I affectionately call organized dentistry). I’ve even managed to see places on my bucket list – the Maldives this summer was truly transcendental. In the stillness of that beautiful place, I had my first opportunity to practice mindfulness. Wherever you are – be there. Be present. It is a gift, one that many don’t have the chance to experience.
As I reflect today — with the Thanksgiving holiday only a few days away — it seems that the dots which once floated aimlessly around the picturesque background in the story of my life are starting to connect. In our separation, we actually got to be closer to each other than ever before. Love shows up. I’ve always said this: to myself, to dental students and residents and new dentists I have the honor of working with, to friends, and family alike. Be present. Time (and your good health) are precious beyond measure. I look forward to continuing to grow, to learn, and to adventure – but most importantly, to do it together with so many of my loved ones.
Be well, and be present.
Dr. Amrita R. Patel grew up in Chappaqua, New York, and graduated from the New York University College of Dentistry in 2011 before completing a general practice residency at the Nassau University Medical Center. Dr. Patel is a general dentist in private practice with her father, Dr. Rohit Z. Patel, in Westchester County, New York. She chaired the New York State Dental Association New Dentist Committee, is the International College of Dentists – USA Section Fellow Ambassador of Social Media, and currently serves the new dentists on the American Dental Association Council on Dental Benefit Plans for the 2020-21 term. She is also among the recipients of the 2021 ADA 10 Under 10 Awards.