WHEN THE STUDENT IS READY, THE TEACHER WILL APPEAR. – BUDDHIST PROVERB
It was Tuesday and a long way from the weekend. The town seemed to drift by the windows of my car as I drove to work. For some reason that day, I was aware that I was driving more slowly to the dental office. When I started practice five years earlier, I was always in a hurry to get there. But today was so wintery beautiful with a deep blue sky deep and some high wispy clouds that my mind wandered back to my youth when days like this were often full of relaxation and adventure. I dreamed about having an easy day without office worries, a day I could spend with my wife and daughters. I would have to find the time to do that... someday.
I was in my parking place before realizing I had been driving on "autopilot." The parking lot was filled with the familiar cars of my employees and my eight o'clock patients had already arrived. They were on time. I was the one who was late. To be honest, I was arriving later every day.
I grimaced as I noticed my most recent "problem patient" exiting his car. Now what? Another adjustment? I sat and wondered what else my day would bring. When I began practice, I would have looked at the next day's schedule before going home, but I had stopped doing this when I realized I was spending every evening thinking about the fires I would have to put out the next day.
Every day seemed to be like the next. I just wanted to make it to the weekend. Although my days were filled and busy, I was unhappy. I wondered if I was just bored and maybe I was feeling out of control. Obviously, I wasn't "in control," nor was I doing what would make me happy. But what would that look like for me? Was I going to spend my life feeling like a victim of circumstance?
I sat in the car checking my phone for messages and listening to the traffic and weather reports on the radio – anything to postpone opening that car door. Grasping the door handle, I glanced at the passenger seat and remembered an errand I planned to do after work. On the seat, was a vintage book that had belonged to my father. It was one of his few possessions that I had kept. Frequently he had read this book in the evenings.
The binding was loose. The clasp was bent and no longer functional. The covers were unevenly worn and the pages had yellowed. The once gilded edges were barely visible. But despite these multiple problems, it was still readable and deserved to be restored in the best way possible. I had recently spotted a book repair shop while driving to and from my office. How odd it was that I had never noticed the shop until I had decided to find someone capable of refurbishing the book.
Bracing myself, I entered my office through the side door. My hygienist immediately met me. Her first appointment was a new patient who needed pre-medication. Should we reschedule or just give the tablets and wait? My decision was for her to keep the appointment but that put her behind for the rest of the day, and this later resulted in having to reschedule her last patient, as both she and her last patient had to pick up their children at school.