What Star Wars Has Taught Me
The first week of May is Teacher Appreciation Week. May the 4th, Star Wars Day, also happens this week. Yesterday I learned of #TeachMeYouDid. In it’s own words it “is an invitation for everyone to tell the story about a teacher or mentor in their lives who woke the Force up in them.” I encourage everyone to participate in this. With the recent news of deplorable School conditions and lack of appreciation for teachers in Detroit, it is even more important to recognize teachers this week. It doesn’t have to be a school teacher you recognize. Perhaps a parent, grandparent, Sunday School Teacher or coach made a difference in your life. We all have learned something from somebody and we all have taught someone something.
I have been a preschool Teachers Assistant off and on for the past 15 years. My other teaching experience includes parenting my 4 kids, Sunday School Teacher, Awana Leader, school volunteer and Vacation Bible School Leader. I have found that my Star Wars Fandom often leaks into my teaching style and philosophy. And I have found that Star Wars has taught me a thing or two as well.
Yoda tells Luke in episode V “Do, or do not, there is no try.” Every time one of my students says “I can’t” I think of these words spoken by Yoda. I might quote the line to older kids, but my preschoolers don’t know Star Wars yet. Try is a very hard word to omit from our vocabulary. I always say to my students that I don’t like the word can’t. I tell them that they should do the task and if they fail they have learned something from it. I tell them to keep doing it and soon they will discover that they CAN. These words of wisdom from Yoda tie into some similar words of wisdom from the Bible that I would often quote to my Sunday School students.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
Colossians 3:23-24English Standard Version (ESV)
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,”
Ephesians 6:7 (NIV)
I told then that ultimately it doesn’t matter what other people thought about what we do, it only matters what God thinks. I told then that God wants our tasks and service to be less TRY and more DO.
Yoda tells young Anakin in Episode I “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” This quote comes to mind when I encounter bullying incidents or even adult conflicts on Facebook or Twitter. I think of it when my kids or I am afraid of anything or anyone. In the Bible, we are told not to be afraid 365 times. When we become afraid we can do and say damaging things that can not be undone. Often our fears are irrational and unwarranted. I think God and Yoda must be best friends.
I believe most of the quotes from Star Wars that are worth paying attention to came from Yoda. Whenever I find myself getting attached to stuff rather than people I think of what Yoda said to Anakin “Train yourself to let go if everything you fear to lose.” When my family was involved in helping rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, the loss of stuff was constantly in our field of vision. In a blink of an eye, stuff can be gone. I thought about how more important we make stuff over people. After that year, I was forever changed about gathering and keeping stuff.
Yoda tells Luke “Anger, fear, aggression…the dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” When we allow dark and negative things be the focus in our lives then they can dominate our present and future. Drug and alcohol addiction is fueled by anger, fear and aggression. I have seen a child of mine go down that dark path. If you read another of my other blog posts you will know a little more about this. (Han Solo & Kylo Ren – A Real Life Parallel).
After Padme is surprised to learn that Anakin is a slave he tells her “I’m a person and my name is Anakin.” We dehumanize our fellow man when we define them by their color, weight, disability, age or any other factor of being human. Anakin schooled Padme that day when he told her his status as a slave to Watto did not define him. When my students start playing favorites and excluding others I immediately say “We are all friends in preschool” I want them to remember to be kind, tolerant and inclusive.
Master Obi Wan tells an angsty padawan Anakin in episode II “Be mindful of your thoughts Anakin, they’ll betray you.” If we could all read each other’s thoughts this world would be in chaos. Our thoughts can make our lives difficult. I have told my kids and students that “Positive attitude brings positive results.” This is advice I have a hard time following myself. How can we be encouraging to others when are constantly discouraging to ourselves? We derail our own ability to DO and our inner dialogue is full of try and can’t. So often we can never be a part of something amazing, wonderful, exciting, fun and life-changing because we were listening to our negative feelings about it. We are reluctant to step out of our comfort zone and DO (once again Yoda) and not let our self-doubt betray us.
In Return of The Jedi force ghost Obi Wan tells Luke that “Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” Oh, Obi Wan….This line bothered me immensely. I did not want George Lucas to explain away his plot holes this way. But really, it is so very true. You have to dwell on it a while. This is especially true in religion and matters of faith. We find it easy to have faith when we don’t have to have blind faith. We find it easy to tell a lie if we convince ourselves that it is ok to tell a ‘white lie’. Now I am generalizing here, in God’s eyes a lie, is a lie is a lie and I’m not judging anyone here but myself. I am a confessed, baptized sinner and believer in Christ who just doesn’t like religion. My dream for this world is that all people of faith, who put a title to their affiliation, are all looking at the same Cross.
During the trench run scene in episode VI, we are on the edge of our seats when Luke turns off the targeting computer and Obi Wan wants him to use the Force. I have mixed feelings…is it going to work? How can he? He barely had any training? And then, with a little help from Han Solo, Luke is a Hero. Before that could happen Luke had to stop doubting himself and let the Force work through him. Obi Wan had to remind him to trust his feelings.
I am back on inner dialogue and allowing our own negative feelings to keep us from doing positive things. Luke decided to turn off the computer and trust his feelings about the Force and the Force’s ability to help him destroy the Death Star. I believe he could feel the peace and focus he needed.
We could all learn from the Jedi philosophy of quieting our minds and trusting our feelings. In matters of faith, we are to use the Holy Spirit and our conscience to be our guide. But too often we rely on the targeting computer instead. Red Leader should have used the force.
In The Force Awakens Maz Kanata tells Rey “The longing you seek is not behind you. It is in front of you.” These words of wisdom from Maz are ones to take to heart. Are you holding on to the past, afraid to DO thinks in the now? Are you afraid to do things because of an uncertain future? I’m never going to get back my youth. But I have allowed my longing for my youth to keep me from enjoying the good life I can still have. Some of my fear is related to a cultural issue with age and beauty and that if I don’t have youth and beauty I can’t Do (whatever). I know this is not true, and I have been consciously working on it. I have stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to fight my fears and live the life I should be living regardless of my age.
It is because of my love for Star Wars that I have started blogging, gaming, cosplaying, podcasting and interacting with people more than I ever have in my life. So much of my life I was trying to fit in somewhere and that somewhere was not really where I wanted to be. What I really wanted was friends. 15 years ago we moved to Virginia from Colorado and I left behind all my family and friends. I recently left a church after 13 years of involvement. 13 years of long hours volunteering my time and talent. One of my main goals and thoughts on getting involved was to make lifelong friendships. I slowly learned I had very little in common with most of the people I thought were my friends. I learned that outside the walls and doors of that church none of them really gave me the time of day. Now don’t get me wrong here, most of them are very nice and loving people. We just had very little in common.
Soon after I decided to be my geeky self. I started talking about and sharing the geeky things I like and love. After I attended my first Star Wars Celebration, in Anaheim, I soon found more friends than I can count. My Star Wars and geek fandom connections are growing every day. By stepping out and DOING podcasting, cosplay and gaming I am changing my outlook on my present and my future. I still get discouraged, I still struggle with my self-esteem and self-worth. But I am getting genuine feedback from genuine friends.
I want to thank some of my geek friends on twitter who have helped me be a better me. People who have been mentors and teachers of mine in many small and big ways. Thanks so much to the fine men and women at @TGRStarWars, @Brewsandblaster @IdiotsArraypod @MyStarWarsStory @FanGirlsGoingRogue @PopXCast and so many more. All my Star Wars and geek culture friends and acquaintances have made my life better for knowing them….yes even @Hamillhimself @CarrieFisher and who have made my day more than once by just clicking that heart under a tweet I made.
What have you learned from Star Wars? What Star Wars wisdom do you follow in your everyday life? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear about it.
Hugs, and may the Force be with you….always
Red 5 Mom