“Feel, don’t think. Trust your instincts.”– Qui-Gon Jinn, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Throughout Star Wars, there are many instances of Jedi instructing their apprentices in how to perceive the Force. We are introduced to this aboard the Millennium Falcon, when Obi-Wan first trains Luke in lightsaber defense. “Stretch out with your feelings,” he says, and “your eyes can deceive you – don’t trust them.” How about us? Can we find a way to trust in the Force?
As we go through our lives, we learn new skills: eating solid food, crawling, walking, writing our names, driving, using Microsoft Excel, etc. Some become second nature, and we no longer have to devote conscious thought to performing them. Some are more difficult to master. Every time we perform these actions, there is the potential for us to improve – to become faster, more accurate, more efficient, more precise. In addition to this, we can also become more confident in our abilities to perform the actions properly. While the thought of driving brings a certain amount of nervousness to teens (along with excitement, of course), most adults no longer worry about taking their car to the grocery store. We trust in our ability to work the mechanical systems in the automobile, and more importantly, we trust in our ability to make the right choices at the right time.
Speaking honestly, I have had moments of doubt in the past few months about a subject that I know very well – indeed, something that I’ve practiced my entire adult life. I have questioned my ability to make the right decisions, and the mere fact that I was doubtful worried me. This problem, compounded, caused me great stress.
“I find your lack of faith disturbing.” – Darth Vader (dark side, but true)
As mentioned recently, I turned to friends and mentors to help guide me. I also turned to the person who knows me best – myself. I meditate daily, and though I typically try (sorry, Master Yoda) to clear my mind, thoughts often invade my stillness. With nothing else to think about, I dwell on subjects rather than letting them flit away. While technically incorrect to do so, I’m fine with it, provided that it helps rather than hurts. Such was the case while examining the source of my anxiety and unease. When my doubts surface, I ask myself questions such as these:
- How much experience do I have with this subject?
- Have I done it before?
- What’s my track record?
- What’s the most likely outcome?
- What’s the worst possible outcome?
- Is the worst possible outcome really that bad?
- Will my family and friends still think I’m a good person if I mess up?
- Will any of this matter next month? Next year? Ten years from now?
If the answers to these questions are all generally positive – I’ve done it before, maybe pretty well, it’s likely that I’ll do just fine, and even if I don’t, no one will die and it’s not really a big deal anyway – I tell myself to “trust in the Force” and go with my gut instinct.
Luke: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
Yoda: You will know. When you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.
As Luke asks, how are we to know if we’re making a good decision? It all depends on each person’s individual moral compass. Religion, laws, science, social pressures – they all guide how we choose to act in uncertain situations. Every time we make a choice and take action (or inaction), we add to our experiences, and this informs how we will act in the future. Good decisions beget good decisions in the future, and poor decisions have the potential to cause additional harm later on if we don’t learn from our errors.
I don’t completely agree with Master Yoda, though. Sometimes we are called upon to make choices when we are NOT calm or at peace. Training and experience can help in times such as these – we can still trust in our own version of the Force. Steering out of a skid on an icy road? As discussed above, the more experience a driver has, the better they are at it. Speaking from a warrior’s perspective, I can add that combat skills get rusty if unused. Reloading a weapon under fire or performing hand-to-hand combat techniques can become second nature if practiced regularly, but it’s easy to fumble a magazine if you haven’t done it in a while. If a warrior trains appropriately, they can “trust in the Force” in a crisis.
Luke: I don't… I don't believe it.
Yoda: That is why you fail.
Everyone is good at something, no matter how insignificant they may think it is. What do you find simple, that others may not be able to do at all? Maybe that is YOUR avenue for the Force. Trust in it. Believe in yourself. Encourage others to believe in their own qualities, skills, and judgment, too. Celebrate victories; learn from defeats.
Trust in the Force.
Until next time, thank you for reading, may the Force be with you, and remember –
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