I took a long walk around campus last Sunday after dropping my son, Connor off to begin his junior year of college. It was beautiful day so the campus was buzzing with students, parents and all sorts of activities. Passing by an enormous white tent which sheltered long tables covered with brightly colored red and blue tablecloths, I saw many freshman and their families gathering for a barbecue lunch. You could feel the excitement, anticipation and perhaps more than a bit of anxiety in the air. Did Connor walk in these shoes just two short years ago? I remembered his “freshman jitters” as I watched the crowd from a distance. He is so comfortable and confident now, you would never guess he was once haunted by those jitters. I smiled knowing these children will soon shed their jitters as easily as trees shed their leaves. They will adapt and move forward in their new role. As I savored that thought, I was overcome by a sense of peace. The world felt “right”.
The wheels of life keep turning in a beautiful rhythm. You can see that clearly in the relatively small space of one college campus. Seniors graduate and move on to more education or join the working world, juniors become seniors, sophomores become juniors and freshman become sophomores, making space for new freshman to arrive. Space opens. The wheel turns. Cycles continue. Life moves forward.
This is wisdom for us all. We encounter many situations in life when we feel the pain of “freshman jitters”. This can happen when we start a new job or are let go from another. It can happen when we welcome a new baby into our families, when a loved one passes on, when we move into a new neighborhood, or become ill. It is human nature to cling to that which is familiar. However, we must let go of old ideas, fears and habits so that we may welcome new experiences into our lives and grow. When we get through the transitions – painful though they may have been – we look back and see that they were necessary. We are strengthened by the experience and fortified for whatever the next turn of the wheel brings our way.
Although I did not attended a single class last Sunday, I learned a very valuable lesson.