churchofgeekIf one spends enough time immersed in geek culture, one begins to realize that the various stories found in novels, comic books, video games, and movies are more than just grandiose collections of action and special effects. A good many of the stories that geeks hold dear to their hearts possess very strong stories with very strong messages. In this new segment of the blog, which will carry over into the new one when it is launched, we will explore the meanings and moral tales behind some of the most popular and not-so-popular titles in geekdom. And what better way to start things off than with a look at one of the most popular scenes from Star Wars Episode V.

As the empire was striking back, a young man named Luke Skywalker found himself on the planet Dagobah under the mentorship of a little green man named Yoda. At one point in his training, Luke must use the Force in order the make his sunken X-Wing rise from the depths of a swamp. He is a bit overwhelmed by the task, the X-Wing is big and heavy after all, and remarks that it cannot be done. After Yoda reprimands him for this attitude, Luke agrees to “give it a try”. This remark earns Luke yet another short lecture from the philosophical little alien. Yoda’s lesson to Luke, “Do or do not. There is no try.” is the perfect message for me to start this segment off with.

Throughout life we are presented with many challenges, many of which can seem overwhelming. Many times, people will look at a task, see how daunting it is, and say it can’t be done. As a result, they will avoid the task at all costs. It is this mentality that prevents people from pursuing their dreams or trying to make a difference in the world. I know a woman who has always dreamed of being a professional artist. Every once in a while, she will start working on art but, when it doesn’t turn out the exact way she wants it or a certain task is too difficult, she will give up completely in a fit of anger and tears. On many occasions I have talked with people about the injustices of modern society and how they could be solved only to have them say that we are only peons in the grand scheme of things and it is best to just accept things the way they are. This is the mentality Luke held when Yoda gave him the task of raising the X-Wing from the swamp and, with that mentality, he was not getting it done.

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“Alright, I’ll give it a try.” Luke, when admonished by his teacher, seeks to placate Yoda by attempting to raise the X-Wing. We do the same thing in life with our daunting tasks. When we can no longer put it off we “give it a try.” What Luke was really saying here, and what we are saying when we say it, is that the task still cannot be accomplished but to pacify either someone else or our own nagging minds we do the task anyway. However, when we approach the task with this mentality the thought that it can’t be done remains in our thoughts. As a result, we either don’t accomplish the goal or it is accomplished, but not to the extent that it could be. This is called “trying” and “trying” is a word we use to make us feel better when we don’t do something or when we don’t do something to the best of our ability.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” “Trying” is an illusion. After we have “tried” to do something, we either did it or did not. It is with this attitude that we must approach all tasks. But simply stating to one’s self that you are going to do something is not enough. You need to actually believe you are going to do it. Otherwise, you are still just “trying”. Luke fails at raising the X-Wing from the swamp and we get an idea of why when he turns back to Yoda and states that the task is impossible. He never actually believed he would be able to accomplish the goal and for this reason, the craft sank back into murky waters of Dagobah. As he walks away Yoda, who does believe in his own abilities, raises the X-Wing without a problem. Simply believing in himself made the task easier to accomplish. The same holds true for us. If we approach a task believing in ourselves and without feelings of self-doubt clouding our thoughts then everything we do will seem a bit easier.

The only reason we do not succeed at everything we do is simply because we give up on the goals. Before he gave up, Luke was making progress on raising the ship. The work was not easy, but it was happening. If he had continued working on the task he would have raised the the ship from the swamp. Instead, he allowed himself to become overwhelmed by the amount of work it was taking. When this happens in our own lives, we like to justify ourselves by saying “I tried”. But what we are really saying is “I give up.” You did not try; you simply didn’t do it. The same is true when we die. Any lifelong dream or goal not obtained was simply not done.

Pessimistic this is? Not at all. We have a stigma built into our society that we must do things. “Try” is our fail-safe. If we don’t do something, we can say we tried. Instead, we should accept the fact that it’s okay to not do some things. It’s okay if you never win a Nobel Prize for literature or if you do not invent the world’s first intergalactic spacecraft. It is not alright to give up on pursuing those goals though. Then, after you fade away and become one with the Force, people will not say you “TRIED” to do this or that; they will say you “DID” pursue your dreams.

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