I was 8 years old when I finished third grade. It had been a challenging year mixed with triumphs and failures, but I remember feeling pretty positive about it. My father, a U.S. Army officer, had been transferred to Germany and that meant a move for our family. Moving was exciting and I appreciated the opportunity for new friends and new adventures, even though leaving old friends was always sad. We couldn’t take our beloved dog, Dixie, to Europe with us so we found her a new family to play with. Third grade provided a new arena for me to make friends and learn the things eight year olds need to know. The playground at this new school was the biggest I’d ever seen, with swings so tall it was very nearly possible to touch the clouds, if you stretched your legs and pointed your toes. The slide was a gleaming metal mountain and if you shined it up with wax paper, you could sail down at super speed. So when I finished third grade I felt it had been a positive experience, and I was ready to put the difficult moments, like holding hands with hot sweaty boys during square dance class, behind me.
But what would fourth grade bring? We weren’t scheduled to move, so I spent the summer anticipating and discussing the unknown horrors that lay ahead with my friends. As September approached, our anxiety reached its peak. If only we knew which classroom and which teacher we were destined to spend the year with. The next thing I remember is a group of us sneaking into the school to look for clues. We didn’t have to break in, the door was unlocked, but in my mind I felt like a cat burglar. The long, wide halls were empty and we were like ants in the cavernous space. We didn’t have to go far for the information we wanted; a list of teacher and student names was posted outside each classroom. We just looked through all the lists until we found our names and then we got out of there, fast.
Transition times in life have been compared to a hallway with many doors by many other writers – it is a perfect metaphor. I’m in a big transition time now, wondering what the next grade will be like, and during meditation the other morning the memory of that long school corridor with all the closed doors came back to me vividly. I prayed to my guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, “I know I’m finished with third grade – it was a full experience and I can humbly say that I did very well (if you average out all the tests, grade on a curve and give me extra credit for perseverance). So now it’s time to go to fourth grade and I’m opening my heart with willingness. But where’s my classroom? I see lots of doors, but which one is mine? How do I know where to enter?”
I didn’t get typed list outside the door, but I felt light, hopeful and loved. Upon reflection, as I wandered up and down my mental corridor, I realized that I already know who my teacher will be – my guru has taken the job until I graduate. Many of my classmates are already cheering me on and letting me know that they will be by my side in the coming adventures. I’m equipped with the skills and experiences I’ve gained up to this point, and I have the tools of yoga that have proven to be invaluable and effective for all of life’s challenges.
To carry the metaphor to its conclusion, I realized also that there is no summer break in life; school is always open and in session. We don’t have to wander the hallways of transition alone. Just take the hand of the guru, or Divine Mother, and go to the next classroom together.
In divine friendship,