It’s from Star Wars. The second one, I think. I mean, the second one of the original three. Luke is training with Yoda, and he’s supposed to lift something heavy (a sunken space ship, maybe?) out of the lake. With his mind. And he’s struggling to do it and you think he might and then … nothing. And Yoda shakes his head with disappointment and Luke cries out that he’s trying and Yoda says, There is no try. There is only do or not do.
Interesting. I’ve seen this scene used to encourage people in their person success. I’ve seen blog posts and inspirational speakers suggest that we take the word try out of our vocabulary. That we do or not do. And I liked how it sounded except, I don’t know, something seemed to be missing.
Maybe we try too much in our culture and in our time. Maybe we spend so much time trying that we don’t get enough done. I know I hear the expression used a lot. I’m trying to finish my masters degree. I’m trying to be a good parent. I’m trying to understand God’s will for my like. We certainly do try a lot.
Some of the time, I know, when I use the word try what I actually mean is I’m not really doing much to make this thing happen, but I’d like it to happen, so I’ll say I’m trying to make it happen. Maybe I’m confused or I don’t know the next step or I’m tired of it or I’m just lazy. But to say I’m trying kind of lets me off the hook. It portrays an effort that I might not really be exerting.
So I say something like, I’m trying to provide healthier meals for my family, but really, Janelle, are you doing it or aren’t you? Are the meals healthy or not? Know what I mean?
So sometimes, yes, I think that it is do or not do. But sometimes there is more.
A friend of mine recently posted on facebook that her daughter had just landed her first something-or-other in figure skating. It was a big deal. She’d been working on it for a long time. It was something she’d been trying to do and she had finally been successful. Her mom was proud of her, and all of us congratulated her on the accomplishment. Trying, in her case, meant hours of practice and falling and getting up and falling again and just continuing until she got there. It was a process of effort.
So, sometimes you try. Or maybe it would be better to say, sometimes you embrace the process. You do the work. You practice. You study. You do whatever you need to do to accomplish whatever you want to accomplish.
Donald Miller would say that this is how you write a good story for your life. You set yourself up as a character who knows what you want and who is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish that. You identify and accept the challenges, and you work through the “story” to completion.
Call it trying if you want. Or process, or growth, or accepting challenges. The point, I guess, is to just get on with it.