What’s Next? What’s It All About, Alfie?
Sitting on a plane returning from a lecture, I sometimes find myself feeling down. Putting cases together, taking photos, and working on my keynote presentation is certainly a great deal of work, but it is also always exciting. All of the build-up to that few hours or days of sharing knowledge with fellow members of the dental community is one of the most exciting parts of life. Standing in the back of a room with your slides on the screen waiting for someone to announce your name or walking into a group of people who have taken time out of their busy lives to come to your lecture is overwhelming, and it is genuinely difficult to express how that feels.
Yet, after all of the hard work, anticipation, and excitement, after the handshakes and discussion with lecture attendees, the show is over. The hotel starts to feel especially empty, and I realize I'm very far from home. When I return to the office, I sometimes have the feeling, "What do I do now?" It feels like a dream has come to an end all too quickly. After a few days of catching up on cases and putting out the fires that arose while I was gone, almost without notice, my brain begins to shift right back to educator mode. I start to get those familiar feelings of excitement as I ponder which case photos will help my next lecture to be even better, which patient stories will show the amazing efforts of the dental team. What inspiration can I offer to help dentists and technicians improve what they do every day? Suddenly, I find myself back on the other side of the hill, standing at the bottom, eager to climb back to the top.
Our professional lives are cyclical. When we are working toward a goal, we often become lost in the labors that lead to that awaited event. Sitting at the top of the hill, however, is bittersweet; it is what we have worked and waited for, but once it has arrived, we are too quickly on our way back down, and it is time to decide our next move. We all experience those feelings of sadness when something ends, and we worry what the future will hold. These feelings, which find me on the plane returning from a lecture, remind me of a phrase from an old song composed by Burt Bacharach and sung by Dionne Warwick, "What's It All About, Alfie?" I believe it sums up the feeling that is probably all too familiar to most people at some point in their lives. Sometimes it's in those moments of quiet, after all of the busy preparation and wonderful moments of achievement, that we realize that we crave something even greater than what awaits us at the top of the hill. Sometimes we need those moments of quiet to realize that we are thankful for something higher than our own professional success.
Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT