| Journal of the Arizona Dental Association, June-July 2013
Eric K. Curtis, DDS, MA
I was really looking forward to the
7 p.m. presentation in Northern Ari-
zona University’s communications
building. A team of NAU photo-
journalism students was scheduled
to debut a collection of still photos
and videos documenting the Decem-
ber 2012 university-sponsored trip
to Tibetan refugee camps at Mainpat
in eastern India. My daughter Jillian and I had trav-
eled to Mainpat with that group, and I anticipated with
mounting curiosity the students’ visual interpretation
of our experience.
Making the 275-mile drive from Safford to Flagstaff
in record time, I was more than an hour early when I
pulled up to the south-campus building that houses
NAU’s dental hygiene department, where Jillian, about
to graduate from the program, was working her last
Wednesday night clinic. I walked up the stairs to the
second floor and parked myself in the hallway to wait.
I was flipping through a National Geographic article on
the mansions of newly wealthy Romanian gypsies—call
them Roma rather than the pejorative term gypsies, the
author instructs—when Jillian rushed into the hall.
“Hey, Dad, do you have a few minutes?” Jilly asked.
I looked up.
“Can you help in the clinic?” she continued. “The
seniors need a dentist to do exams and treatment
planning, and the dentist who usually comes tonight
can’t make it.”
I peered over my glasses and said nothing. I had
motored almost five hours out of the desert and into
the high country for an entirely different purpose.
I didn’t really want to get bogged down with a dis-
traction. So I hesitated.
Cognitive flexibility can smoothover
life’s unexpectedmental bumps
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