A Formal Apology to Yoda
Maybe I took Star Wars a little too seriously as a kid...
It is with utmost humility that I apologize for one of the greatest mental blunders of my life thus far, which has resulted in my holding an unfair grudge against you for a number of years. As a child, when I first heard your bead of wisdom, “Do or do not, there is no try,” I was immediately infuriated. Your statement negated every bit of positive feedback I’d ever gotten. For every one of my six years of existence, I'd been showered with “Good try!” or “At least you tried!” or “All that matters is that you tried!” You were effectively telling me that the only thing I’d been lead to believe that mattered didn’t even exist at all.
This had a profound effect on my formative years as a young adult when I struggled with pervasive feelings of inadequacy. Every failure prompted repetition of your trademark catchphrase, making me believe that regardless of my efforts, I “did not” and that my attempts were in vain. If there was no try, why bother…trying? I learned to give up easily, to give in to discouragement, and to simply bypass the things I wasn’t good at to pursue the things I was naturally talented in. But even the skills that came easily to me eventually reached a plateau, and I stopped putting work into the things I loved. I’d grown habitually lazy. Jaded at 22. My ship consumed by the swamp. Smelly bubbles rising to acrid air.
Then one night I was smoking a fat joint and everything came together. You didn’t mean for us to stop trying—you cleverly (and much too subtly) equated trying with doing, stating that our basic understanding of what it is to try something is in fact doing it. And you are completely, absolutely, totally in the right. What I failed to recognize was that you can do something very poorly, but you’re still doing it, and that is something to be commended. Even if you are completing necessary prerequisites (getting a degree, occupying an entry-level position), you are still working towards a goal. That is doing. You may not be doing exactly the precise thing you want to be doing, but you are doing, and you are progressing. That matters.
Tragedy is in not doing. Victory is in doing. Acknowledge your triumphs and do not be lazy. Do.
With most sincere thanks,
P.S. Can I be a Jedi now? That’s what happens next, right?
Feature illustration by Emily Rice