Let’s Talk About Perspective
By: Dr. Amisha Singh
As I type this out, I am coasting at 477 mph at a breathtaking 38,000 feet in my first flight since the pandemic started. As someone who once considered Denver International Airport a second home, this is a little bit like a step back into another life, complete with equal parts excitement and anxiety. I look out over the patchwork landscape of beautiful Colorado, my forever home, taking in a familiar sight which I hope I will not take for granted again. And I think about perspective.
I spent the weekend at a family wedding in Atlanta and there we had numerous conversations about life over the past two years. Two years is a fairly long time for my large, extended, Indian family to go without seeing each other so there was plenty to catch up on. One of my cousins decided to leave a career in health care. Another is moving across state lines and leaving a newborn niece she thinks of as a daughter. As I heard about life trajectories of cousin after cousin, job changes and moves and weddings and transitions, I could not help but think how unexpected are some changes. Changes like the pandemic, your favorite dental assistant quitting over lunch, family illnesses, acceptance to dental school, buying a practice, changes filled with joy and sorrow alike, often come out of nowhere. They feel like an accost to your life, to your balance, to all the places you knew you were destined to be. They can feel like a win wrapped up in a loss, or vice versa. They are unexpected and emotionally turbulent and sometimes a dichotomy. And that is okay. Life turns aren’t binary- good or bad, happy or sad. They are amalgamations of a multitude of emotions, and sometimes, as humans we do not know where to place them. Humans like buckets. Buckets feel safe, reliable and predictable and we want to compartmentalize and categorize to gain access to that stability. But changes are, by their very definition, unstable.
I think about my own life path and how I had no idea that academic medicine would be my ideal work. I think about the journey I took to get here and how I did not always willingly cross the paths on that journey. Sometimes life had to force my hand. But now, with my 20/20 hindsight, I see all the paths that had to align to bring me the joy I have now. Some of the paths were amazing (I will remember the December 1st call accepting me to my dream school for the rest of my life.) But others felt like losses at the time. I remember grieving those losses and wondering “why?”.
I type this to remind you (and myself), the why may not be evident in the moment, but it shows itself eventually. So far, this has not failed. I am standing on the mountain with complete visibility so I can say that easily now. I am joyous now. But in my sorrow, it was not always easy to trust the universe, to trust that I would know the why behind what felt like an unmeasurable loss.
When I mentor students and younger dentists, so often, I hear them lament over the length of their journey. They ask “why?” too.
Why did I have to take that gap year?
Why did I major in engineering first?
Why did that practice fall through?
Why did it take me so long to realize that I love public health?
As I hear them, I think of all the times I asked myself these questions. It brings me right back to this plane. See, when I travel from ATL to DEN, I do not complain about the three hours of my day I spent on this flight. I do not see this as a waste of my time. I recognize that I need the time to travel the miles. I need to spend this time on a flight, traveling the journey, to return home. In fact, I trust a plane is flying the quickest route possible to get me home. So why can we not trust the same of the journey of our lives? Every path we travel, every turn we take, is necessary to give us an important piece of ourselves, to bring us home. This path will wind and sometimes meander, but it will always bring us home… to our dream jobs, to the best version of who we are, to who we will eventually become.
So, as we start the descent to DIA, and I take in the patchwork quilt of land which lies beneath me, watching tufts of clouds cast shadows and glide past, I want to anchor this memory. I want to remember what it feels like to see all the whys, trust the universe, and feel like home is approaching. May we never forget this feeling of coming home.
Amisha Singh, DDS is a Denver native and loves living in beautiful Colorado. She is an active member of the American Dental Association, Colorado Dental Association and Metro Denver Dental Society. She was recognized as one of the 2018 Top 10 Under 10 ADA Dentists nationally. She serves on the CDA House of Delegates, on the ADA Dental Wellbeing Advisory Committee and on the MDDS and CDA Membership Councils. She is also a blogger and professional speaker who works with IgniteDDS.