“Do, or do not. There is no try.” -Yoda
This line’s been in my head since long before I saw the movies. (I wasn’t allowed to watch them, because of the violence; so I would hide outside my brother’s door and listen. I thought I was sneaky. I’m sure I wasn’t. Later I was allowed to watch Yoda’s scenes. By the time I watched the whole thing, I knew his words backwards and forwards. And it is probably this interest on my part, this participatory myth building, that makes Yoda mean so much to me. We all take the stories we read and write them with our own ink in our own hearts. Otherwise they would never touch us). It’s been with me, but it came back to me tonight.
“Do, or do not. There is no try.” That’s silly: I try to do things all the time–unless Yoda is asking me to think of tasks in a fundamentally different way. I see a mountain, and wondering what it would be like at the top, I start moving. If I am “getting to the top,” I can fail. There might be ravines I don’t know about. I might twist my ankle. There might be saber-wielding Sith. It seems like there is a “try.” But Yoda ask, “Know you what you are doing?” Well, what part of this task am I actually doing? What part can I actually do, all within myself? I am stepping forward. That is something I can do. Whatever happens next, in that moment, I do it.
With my actions, I often intend to create some certain result. I would like to see the peak. But that result relies on a whole world of factors beyond my control: the mountain, the weather, the continued beating of my heart. If a task includes other people, all of them have their own intentions, their own actions. There is more to life than just me. I can look at the endless, changing web of action and interaction and result, but I don’t think I can fully understand it. I certainly can’t hold it all in my hands. I can choose my own action. I can lift my foot for another step.
I wonder what it would be like to understand more of my actions in this way. Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep: instead of trying to fall asleep, I could chose to be lying in the night, breathing. Instead of trying to get over an illness, I could put water on to boil. Tomorrow, as an experiment, I’m not going to show up and teach a good class. After all, it might be a bad class. But if there is school tomorrow, and if my car doesn’t break down on the way, then there will probably be a moment when I listen. If there is silence, I will listen to that. If there is speech, I will listen to that. There will probably be a moment when I speak, and share whatever there is to share in my heart. Those sharings might be welcomed and might be missed. Which of those happens is not something I choose. What I do is listen. What I do is share.
Do, or do not.