Connect the dots

dr. Patel managed to see places on her bucket list this summer, including the Maldives.

I remember seeing Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement speech as a dental school candidate who was hopeful (and a little scared) about her future. In it he told about three lessons that he wanted to give to the graduating class that year. The first, the one that resonated with me the most then, and still reverberates through the corridors of my life today, was about connecting the dots.

In his speech, Steve said, “You can’t connect the dots by looking ahead; you can only connect them backwards. So you have to trust that the dots in your future will connect somehow. You have to rely on something – your feeling, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

The past 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 view each other and the world. And yet, through the sometimes dark, but very often gray areas that we have experienced, light and love are still breaking through.

I’ve made new friends across 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 even managed to see places on my bucket list – the Maldives this summer was truly transcendental. In the silence of that beautiful place I got my first chance to practice mindfulness. Wherever you are – be there. Present. It is a gift, a gift that many cannot experience.

When I think about it today—with the Thanksgiving holiday just days away—it seems the dots that once floated aimlessly around the picturesque backdrop in the story of my life are starting to connect. In our divorce, we came closer together than ever before. Love emerges. I’ve always said this: to myself, to dental students and assistants and new dentists I get to work with, to friends and family. Present. Time (and your good health) is immeasurably precious. I look forward to continuing to grow, to learn and to adventure, but most of all to do it with so many of my loved ones.

Be healthy and be present.

dr. Amrita R. Patel grew up in Chappaqua, New York, and graduated from New York University College of Dentistry in 2011 before completing a residency in family practice at Nassau University Medical Center. dr. Patel is a general dentist in a 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 in the American Dental Association Council on Dental Benefit Plans for 2020- 21. She is also one of the recipients of the 2021 ADA 10 Under 10 Awards.

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