Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.  -From “Circles,” an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Welcome to the new year fellow acupuncture enthusiasts! The Academy, its students, interns, and staff came back from winter break at the beginning of January, and we all hit the ground running. The first order of business was welcoming and orienting the newest class: Class 29B. I am proud to introduce you to the newest members of the AFEA community. They are a very mature, thoughtful, and respectful group of individuals. They joined us on January 9th and are moving their way quickly through their first intensive. I hope that all of you will reach out to them, personally or digitally, and offer them your congratulations and any advice that you may have. (Pictures will be forthcoming!)

In the midst of the new class beginning, Class 28 returned for Session 5 of the Acupuncture program. Yes, that’s right: Session 5. They’re moving through the intensive portion of the program so fast. Pretty soon I’ll be writing to tell you about the beginning of their clinical residency!

And in the midst of the new and the returning, we have an “end.” In two weeks Class 26 will be graduating. I’ll admit it to you, I’ve been tearing up this week just thinking about their Commencement ceremony on January 29th. I feel a little silly about that, but it’s the truth. Almost all of them have finished treating their patients and they’re dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s on the last of their paperwork. They passed their final exam for the Herbal program this morning (congratulations everyone!). And I know many of them have already looked past graduation to start preparing for the national exams. Again, constant forward movement.

There’s a tremendous sense of change and transition in the air again. That’s part of the program, part of being in school: beginnings, middles, and…”ends.”  I started this post with a reference to Emerson, and the natural symbol of the Circle because the idea of a “lower deep” is very strong right now. Training is done in phases, with each phase bringing newness, sadness, excitement, fear. That’s what learning is made up of, and it requires almost constant forward movement, while incorporating the past and present. I try and remind our students to enjoy each phase, no matter how challenging, frightening, or enjoyable it might be. We are often too eager to get to the “end,”  that we forget that there is no real end. We’re simply building on what’s come before in preparation for what’s to come.

And so, in welcoming the new year and the new class, we will also be welcoming our newest graduates, who are preparing for their new dawn. Stay tuned to see what the next circle will be.