The Guru: A Story by S. Gustavo Levy

Robert was devastated after his divorce. “At least,” he thought, “there are no children.” He tried devoting more time to his job as an accountant, but he was not deriving any pleasure from dealing with numbers and accounting entries. He loved history, scientific matters and classical music, but it wasn’t enough. Life appeared devoid of any meaning.

Robert talked to some friends and the one he admired the most recommended seeking the advice of The Guru who lived on top of one of North America’s mountains. After some initial skepticism, thinking it was a weird idea, Robert decided to give it a try. “It will force you to do something new,” he told his brain.

With the guide he’d hired, Robert headed for the mountain. But it wasn’t the way he’d expected it to be – the path was lined with signs directing the traveler straight up to The Guru. There were also stone steps to make the climb easier. They both got to the top, but Robert was not used to this kind of exercise and he was exhausted. Besides, it was cold up there.

Fortunately, the place where The Guru received visitors was surprisingly warm and comfortable. It consisted of a large, neat, adobe room with modern decorations. There were chairs, love seats and sofas, and two counters – one for simple pieces of advice and the other for complex issues. There were many people there. Robert took a number and joined the complex issues line.

He met The Guru after a long wait. She was a skinny, five-foot-tall woman with a short, unruly mop of white hair, and she was clad in rags. Robert had never heard of a woman guru before. She fit the role but not the surroundings. Many centuries seemed to have crossed her creased and wrinkled face. She observed Robert with her left eye and espoused her wisdom from the left side of her mouth. He assumed that she had suffered some paralysis on her right side. “Like politics in this country,” mused Robert.

He told her how surprised he was about meeting a woman instead of a man.
“You are not the first person to tell me that. It is another sign of how ‘machista’ our society is. I have studied in Kerala, India, and am recognized as a very effective guru. You can see all my credentials.”
Robert looked at the diplomas displayed on the wall and verified her title and the accolades to her as The Guru of the Year. In fact, for several years.

With a hoarse voice, she said, “You came here without the urging of your wife, lover or girlfriend, am I correct?”
Robert was amazed. “How did you know that?”

The Guru looked at Robert and was quiet for several minutes. “Your outfit was the clue.  The shirt matches neither the trousers nor the jacket. A woman companion would never allow that,” she continued.  “Most importantly, you look depressed and I bet your wife has left you.”

“You are right, I am a wreck. Without my wife, I do not know what to do. I need your advice.” Then Robert revealed that his spouse had said to him: ‘You are a bore and I cannot stand this life any longer.’

The Guru replied, “More than fifty percent of the men who come here have been abandoned by their spouses or lovers. I bet that she is an artist and you are an accountant, who works 9 to 5 every weekday.”
“How did you know?”

“Because the god of accountants is called Routine and drags them to the kingdom of Boredom. Artists long for variety and excitement. Some accountants only talk about book entries, records, charges, debits, credits and terms of that sort. That could be extremely boring, particularly for artists. You are still young, – thirty years old perhaps? (Robert nodded) and I am sure that your lack of enthusiasm is caused by the feeling that your life is not meaningful. I highly recommend walking a different life path and you will enjoy success.”

“What do you mean by ‘success’?”
“Defeating all your demons and becoming your real self. In your case, I advise looking for difficult physical challenges. That is what’s lacking in your life. The psychological rewards will be invaluable.”

Robert looked puzzled. “What kind of challenges?”
The Guru’s forehead creases appeared deeper as she meditated on her answer.
“I will assign the kinds of challenges you should take on. When you return home, you’ll receive the assignments. Get in touch with me – you can reach me either by calling 1-800-bestguru, going to my website, or just calling via Whatsapp. Do you have Whatsapp?”

Before leaving the place, Robert paid the fee for the advice and signed the forms that required him to pay for all future advice. Once back in town, Robert called The Guru and received the first assignment – he was to compete in tennis.
Robert couldn’t believe that the first challenge would be so easy.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because tennis is a confrontation, but with a racket instead of a gun. And you develop character and stamina with tennis,” was the answer,

Methodical as he was, Robert took classes with a coach, one who assured him that he would be able to face any tennis player after some weeks.
“Are you sure?” Robert asked the coach.
“Of course I am. I learned with the great Ilie Nastase,” the Rumanian boasted.

After one month, Robert decided to compete and registered for the county championship. The coach was hesitant, realizing that Robert was naturally clumsy and still out of shape.

In his first match, Robert served and the ball landed in the right space. It was a fleeting moment of joy.  When he tried to answer the opponent’s return, instead of hitting the ball with the racket, he did it with his right eye, falling immediately to the ground. He was taken to the hospital, and was lucky because the ball smashed the bone of the orbital socket without hurting the eye itself.

“Should I continue with tennis?” he asked The Guru.
Promptly came the reply: “No, that was enough. Now you should learn the tango and participate in a dance contest.”
“A strange challenge,” he thought, and asked, “What’s the reason for that?”
“Tango teaches passion, an important quality to succeed in life,” came the instant reply.

Robert registered in a tango academy and attended classes regularly, learning some steps and even pirouettes appropriate to the dance. He found an enthusiastic female partner and they registered for the tango competition. When they began to dance Robert tried to show off his recently acquired skills. Grabbing his partner with passion, he attempted a risky pirouette, using his left foot as a pivot and turning to the left. Since she was heavier than he, Robert could not maintain their balance and stumbled, falling to the floor with her on top of his wrist. He wore a cast for one month.

After recovering from the injury, he got his next challenge – basketball.
“It is the best sport for keeping in shape and for developing team spirit,” was The Guru’s explanation.

He practiced the sport and was injured when he was sandwiched between two giants while trying to get a rebound. This time, he suffered a leg injury and had to wear a cast for another month.

Then The Guru indicated that judo would be the next challenge.
“Judo requires concentration and balance. Also, quick judgement. Besides, it increases self-confidence,” she said.

After undergoing rigorous training, he had the opportunity to try for his yellow belt. Just at the beginning of the contest, Robert screamed. The audience thought that it was his way of intimidating the opponent. It was not. His big toe had become trapped in a seam of the tatami mat.

“This is crazy,” reflected Robert. “On the other hand, maybe I have already achieved success by defeating my own internal demons. I am more self-assured and perhaps this is The Guru’s aim. He went to the mirror to look at his reflection. “My face is the same, but I look more alive and dynamic.”

He called The Guru.
“Is this finally the end of the challenges?”
“No, you still have to try hang gliding.”
“Hang gliding? Are you serious? That’s extremely dangerous.”
“Yes, it is, but by challenging life, you will appreciate it immensely. If you don’t do it, you will regret it for the rest of your life.”

Robert studied the course description and learned that he could take a one-day course in Santa Barbara that would allow him to fly solo from the training hill. The course itself was not expensive, but the equipment was, and he did not have all the money required. At minimum he would need a helmet, gloves, a special shirt and suit, trekking boots, and a radio. He mulled over the cost. When he talked to his friends, they were even more thrilled than he was about this challenge and lent him the money he needed for this extreme sport.

The first class went OK, until the landing part. He could not control the hang glider and landed on top of a car. He suffered a concussion and the car was badly damaged.
When he awoke at the hospital, he saw his friends – and a pleasant feminine face smiling at him.

“Well,” she said, “I am happy that you are alive and will recover completely after some months. On the other hand, you ruined my car. But – the insurance will pay.”
“So sorry,” he mumbled.
“You better be, and do not try to hang glide again. It is not as simple as you thought,” she said, mockingly

Robert immediately took a liking to this lively girl.
He asked her, “Do you know when I can leave the hospital?”
“According to the nurse, in a couple of days.”
Robert then asked, “May I take you to dinner after I get home?”
She seemed to ponder the answer and finally said, “Yes, you can.”
He was elated. Funny, but he hadn’t asked her name.
“My name is Victoria,” she said.
She visited him often during the long recovery period. They were very happy so they decided to live together.

When he called The Guru the next time she said,
“My intuition tells me that you have reached success.”
“Yes, I think I have. It’s been very difficult but I have faced many demons and I have become my real self. Also I have met Victoria who is wonderful. We love each other and we’re going to stay together.”

“Good,” said The Guru.
“Now, would you like to have your next challenge?”

               *     *     *     *     *
S. Gustavo Levy’s love affair with writing began a long time ago, in Chile, his native country. He worked for the United Nations and the InterAmerican Development Bank and now teaches Spanish in Maryland. He has published ZERO AND OTHER STORIES, a collection in Spanish and English for language students. The Guru will be included in his forthcoming second book.

(Copyright S. Gustavo Levy 2019)

The image that accompanies this post is from,


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