Pop Culture Parenting – Yoda Edition

Do. Or do not. There is no try.


Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

There’s so much I want to teach my kids. Certainly reading, writing, all that academic crap, sure. But more than that, I want to teach them how to be in the world, how think about things and not settle for mediocrity. I want to raise them to be the best human beings they can possibly be.

“Do as I say, not as I do” just isn’t going to cut it.

That means I have to BE the best human being I can be.

As my beloved bride will attest, I am decidedly not that. I have, to put it mildly, some work to do.

To that end, I present the first installment of Pop Culture Parenting. I’m taking movie quotes, song lyrics, characters from my favorite movies, TV shows and books, and extracting the lessons and character traits I want my kids to see in their Daddy and take on themselves.

Me being me, I have to start with one of my all time favorite movies, The Empire Strikes Back.

Go watch this. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

There’s so much good stuff packed in this short scene. In a nutshell, Luke doubts his ability to lift his X-wing with the force, but tells Yoda resignedly that he’ll give it a try. That’s when we hear the line.

“No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Man, that hits me hard.

We live with my in-laws right now, helping out with health problems and letting Little Bit get to know her cousin here. Especially since the Corona lockdown, there have been some . . . disagreements here and there. I work on having a better attitude and doing better. When my bride and I talk about it, I tell her, “I am trying, baby. I really am.”

As if trying gets me bonus points or something.

Trying is all well and good, as long as it leads to progress, to improvement. Unfortunately, that’s not how many people use the word. I see “trying” used a lot as a “get out of jail free” card, as if to say, I’m trying, so if I fail, it’s not my fault. It’s a way to blame external circumstances for our own failings.

I don’t want to do that anymore. Not just for my sake, but for my children as well.

I want my kids to learn personal responsibility, and not the avoidance of it.

When I was a kid, I’d screw up (as we all do), and my father would always sit me down and ask me, “OK, What have you learned from this.”

That is an important question.

That seemingly simple question encompasses so much of how I want my kids to live their lives. Examine your life. See how you can improve. Own your mistakes. Learn from everything.

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

The other day, I told her that I was eliminating “try” from my vocabulary. It’s do or do not. I’ll either do it well, or I’ll screw it up, own it, and do better next time. It’s definitely a process, but it’s getting better. I’m learning where my shortcomngs are in regards to patience and control are and getting stronger and better in those areas, bit by bit.

Man, this would be easier if I had the Force. And a lightsaber.

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