Tag Archives: The Force

Lessons from Star Wars: “Do or Do Not, There is No Try.”

For many people, Star Wars has been a force for inspiration in their lives. It has brought together like minded people, it has helped build friendships in a welcoming community of fans, and it’s been there for people who’ve needed a few hours of stress relief from a harsher reality. Sometimes though, it’s quite difficult to measure how much, or how little, an effect different aspects of a franchise can have on people. Star Wars has impacted my life mostly through the people I’ve met in the fan community, and through the building of skills such as writing (which you see me doing now) and speaking, and learning such things like building a website, about audio equipment, interview techniques, and many other skills I’ve come to develop. If you go back to the beginning though, back to the movies that started it all, you’ll find many, valuable, life lessons. I will be writing about some of these lessons, and thought I’d start with a classic scene, one of my favorite scenes in the Star Wars movies.

There is a scene in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back where Luke is training with Yoda in the swamps of Dagobah. Yoda is teaching him about the Force, concentration, and focus, when Luke’s X-wing he’d crash landed into the swamp starts sinking further into the mire. As Artoo sounds the alarm, Luke loses focus on his training and drops the stones Yoda was having him lift with the Force.

Looking at his X-wing that has sunk almost entirely beneath the surface, Luke says: “No, we’ll never get it out now!”
Yoda: “So certain are you. Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?”
Luke: “Master, moving stones around is one thing, but this is totally different!”
Yoda: “No. No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned”
Luke: *sighs* “Alright, I’ll give it a try.”
Yoda: “No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
Luke sighs, and tries to lift the X-wing out of the swamp using the Force, and fails. He tells Yoda: “I can’t, it’s too big.”
Yoda: “Size matters not. Look at me; judge me by my size do you? Hmm? And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. It’s energy, surrounds us, and binds us. Luminous beings are we! Not this crude matter. *touches Luke’s arm* You must feel the Force around you. Between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere. Yes, even between land, and the ship.”
Luke stands up to leave saying: “You want the impossible.”
As Luke walks off, Yoda closes his eyes and reaches out to the X-wing through the Force. Artoo starts chiming and beeping excitedly as the X-wing, seemingly by magic, floats up out of the swamp, and to a very surprised Luke’s feet.
Luke turns to Yoda saying: “I don’t believe it!”

Blinking wisely, Yoda simply states: “That, is why you fail.”

“Impossible is only a word found in the dictionary of fools.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

There are many lessons that can be learned from Yoda. For instance the philosophies behind, ‘size matters not’, or ‘luminous beings are we’. However, today I’d like to focus on the differences between, and attitudes behind, trying vs doing. One thing I noticed right away was Luke’s negative attitude in the beginning. He started out with the assumption that it couldn’t be done, that he would fail, and in the end he lived up to that expectation. We’ve all heard of self fulfilling prophecies, but often we fail to recognize when we’re in the middle of one. Another way of looking at this is the idea that you get what you expect. If your mind is occupied with thinking about how or why you’ll fail, than it’s not thinking about creative ways to arrive at a solution. Some people tend to be stubborn, and when you tell them that they’ll fail, they try everything to not fail. But most people aren’t this way, and expecting anyone to do poorly, including yourself, is typically the fastest way to make sure they will do poorly!

“They succeed, because they think they can.” ~ Virgil

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” ~ Les Brown

Luke is pretty sure before he tries that he won’t be able to succeed, but he only tells Yoda after failing that Yoda asks the impossible. Using the word ‘try’ can be used as an excuse. Anyone can say “I tried” and use that to excuse the end result. After all, if we tried, what more could be done? If we deem a task impossible, than we aren’t to blame when we fail, right? Obviously, there are times we sincerely try our best, and we don’t succeed. And that’s ok. Hopefully we learn from our efforts, even if we weren’t successful in that particular endeavor. But it’s the mindset behind the word ‘try’ that counts. Using the word ‘try’ to let ourselves off the hook when we don’t succeed is one way to ensure we don’t try our best.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” ~ Jillian Michaels

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” ~ Pablo Picasso
What are you ‘trying’ to accomplish in your life right now? Don’t try, do! Decide you want something and chase after it! If you want to be a better person, become a better person! Take action and create goals where you can measure the results of your efforts. After all, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” according to Napoleon Hill. If you’re half-heartedly pursuing something, maybe it’s something you shouldn’t be putting your resources in. Or, maybe it’s something you need to re-invigorate and put more effort into. Why make the decision to do one or the other? Because if you don’t, that end goal that you’re putting effort into, but never arriving at, steals your time, money and energy, and becomes a discouraging part of your life. And if this is representative of how you approach everything, you drift through life, and life makes decisions for you. Sometimes this is easier. It’s easy to let others make decisions for you, to not make decisions, be embarrassed and fail at something. But the surest way to fail at accomplishing something is to never even start it.
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  ~ Zig Ziglar

“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford

Legendary soccer player, Mia Hamm once said: “Success breeds success.” Scientifically known as ‘the winner effect’, this principle means that those who succeed are likely to succeed even more. Why? Well, this may be because people are habitual creatures, and succeeding becomes a habit. Or the people who succeed are just talented and more likely to continue succeeding, etc. I think both are true, but I also believe that success tends to build confidence, and if failing is discouraging, than succeeding is encouraging, and brings the enthusiasm and self-confidence needed to whole-heartedly pursue other goals. The confidence to create plans, and believe from past (successful) experiences those plans will work, thus having the motivation to carry those plans to the finish line. If you believe you’ll fail, why bother to follow through with plans, or even make them in the first place? And if you’ve succeeded before, why should you believe you’ll fail? While it sounds trite to tell you to ‘believe and you can do anything’, it seems evident that beliefs and perceptions are powerful things, capable of affecting us in ways we don’t fully understand.

So is that the real difference between trying and doing? That, as Yoda says, the only difference is in our mind, and how we approach things? Don’t quit and use “I tried” as an excuse. Don’t think that you’re helpless. You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control how you choose to react to them. Try, and when you fail, try again with the determination to succeed. Keep doing something until you get it right. Perseverance, optimism and determination was what Yoda was looking for. Not perfection, it’s not about perfection. It’s about not giving up!

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” William E. Hickson

-Bethany Blanton (Co-founder and Associate Editor.)

 

Midi-chlorians Explained – A Fan’s Take On Those Controversial “microscopic lifeforms”

I think that midi-chlorians are probably one of the most hated aspects of Star Wars. People hate them so much even Jar Jar gets to pick on them. Midi-chlorians are criticized for demystifying the force and for turning the energy that surrounds us and binds us into nothing more than an infection. Even more surprising, while most Star Wars controversies are bemoaned by a few disgruntled fans, midi-chlorians are hated by everyone.

That’s why I am going to attempt to explain why they might not be so bad after all. See, as a Star Wars fan, I want to be able to love everything about that Galaxy Far, Far Away and I really enjoy opportunities to justify and retcon until things make sense. Am I an apologist? Maybe. But what it really comes down to is that if we accept (which I have) that canon is canon… I would rather do some mental gymnastics and find a way to like midi-chlorians than just sit around and let them spoil the stories for me. I hope that by sharing my interpretation of midi-chlorians, maybe you will also be able to see them in a different light.

Here’s what we know about midi-chlorians from the movie:

Anakin Skywalker: Master, sir, I heard Yoda talking about midi-chlorians. I’ve been wondering…what are midi-chlorians?

Qui-Gon Jinn: Midi-chlorians are a microscopic lifeform that reside within all living cells and communicates with the Force.

Anakin Skywalker: They live inside of me?

Qui-Gon Jinn: In your cells, yes. We are symbionts with them-

Anakin Skywalker: Symbionts?

Qui-Gon Jinn: Life forms living together for mutual advantage. Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to you, telling you the will of the Force. When you learn to quiet your mind, you will hear them speaking to you

I want to start by saying that nowhere in Qui-Gon’s explanation (see above) does he say that the midi-chlorians create the Force or that they even create a being’s connection to the Force. As a matter of fact, all he really says is that they are a symbiotic life form. I think that everyone misunderstood this scene by interpreting the midi-chlorians to be much more important than they actually are. Through my interpretation, midi-chlorians are only important for one purpose: they are the way that the Jedi are able to measure force ability. We will get to that later, but let’s start by imagining a midi-chlorian as simply a tiny little cellular life form, but forget everything you think you know about its relationship with the Force. Let’s just start with it as a normal living thing, similar to an amoeba.

What we DO know about midi-chlorians is that the Jedi council measures a midi-chlorian count to see how strong a being’s connection to the Force is. This is what throws most people off as there seems to be an implication that the midi-chlorians CAUSE the person to be more closely attuned to the Force. However, if the Jedi were simply using midi-chlorians as a measuring tool, there would only need to be a CORRELATION present. There needs only be a connection saying that with greater force ability, you will find a higher midi-chlorian count and nothing needs to exist stating that one causes the other.

You have to imagine that the Jedi needed ways to measure Force sensitivity. Sure, part of it was just the masters sitting around during Lunch trying to find a way to prove who was best… but they also needed ways to seek out and recruit more Force-sensitives to their cause. I would imagine that (until midi-chlorians were considered) the Jedi probably spent lots of time, effort and credits researching ways to detect force-sensitivity. Like most of us would, they probably started by trying spiritual or Force-based tests. They probably studied and meditated for millennia looking for a way to precisely measure Force sensitivity. Eventually, they probably expanded their scope and tried approaching the problem scientifically. At that point, they noticed a correlation (not even needing causation) between Force sensitivity and midi-chlorian count and from then on, that became the standard test… not because the midi-chlorians create the connection to the Force, but simply because a being with a close connection will end up having more midi-chlorians in their blood.

Why would there be a correlation, then?

We know from the Expanded Universe that different creatures can interact with the Force in different ways (The best example would be the ysalamiri). So it’s not too difficult to imagine that midi-chlorians could be creatures who actually feed off of the Force. If the idea of them “eating” or gaining nourishment from the Force is too biological for you, imagine that the little amoeba-like organisms are specialized in Force-healing and so the more they are surrounded by the Force, the healthier they are.

If this were the case, wouldn’t it make sense that a person who has a greater connection to the Force would be able to attract and sustain a larger population of midi-chlorians? Think of it like lampreys attached to sharks. A lamprey is a fish that survives by attaching itself to a shark and eating all of the food that falls out of the shark’s mouth. Therefore, if a shark is an excellent hunter, killing hundreds of fish per day, more lampreys would be able to stick with it and still have plenty of food. You could probably, in that case, look at a shark with 5 healthy lampreys attached to it and conclude that it is a better hunter than a shark with one hungry lamprey. I think the Jedi noticed that a similar relationship existed between Force-users and midi-chlorians and they realized that it was just an easy way for them to see how strong a person’s force connection was.

Obi Wan tells us in A New Hope that the Force is an energy field created by all living things. It makes sense that more life yields more Force and there are many implications that places in the Galaxy that are teeming with life seem to have stronger connections to the Force, especially the light side. In this way, it is probable that, to some degree, having a large number of midi-chlorians in your body at all times might, in fact, make the Force more accessible to you, even though the midi-chlorians themselves are not actively creating or facilitating this connection. Considering Qui Gon Jinn’s strong adherence to his view of the Living Force, it makes sense that he would really focus on the interconnectedness and the relationship between the midi-chlorian and the being serving as its host. That is why Qui Gon emphasizes this connection to Anakin when explaining the symbiotic relationship.

This only leaves two small points to address.

First, there is the comment that without midi-chlorians, “life could not exist”. To explain this, we can simply look at our own existence and the mitochondria that exist in our cells. Mitochondria are tiny organisms that exist within our cells and without them we could not live Most biologists, however, believe that mitochondria were actually bacteria that integrated themselves into our cellular structures and were not part of our original cellular makeup. So I can accept this as precedent for the idea that there can be a cellular organism without which life could not exist.

Second, there is the comment that without midi-chlorians, “we would have no knowledge of the Force”. As I mentioned above, you have to imagine that Jedi and non-Jedi alike must always spend time researching and learning about the Force. Could you imagine a world where we didn’t study how electricity or gravity works? Well, even though the Force is more mystical than those real-world forces, I would imagine it would be studied all the same. Once the midi-chlorians were discovered, it could have harbored a new scientific approach to studying the Force and given non-force-users a way to indirectly measure and interact with the Force. Just as Gravity existed and impacted us before it was “discovered”, so the Force was around and used, but the Galaxy’s knowledge of the Force could have expanded dramatically as a result of the scientific approach to Force-study and the ability for everyone to measure it.

So that is a window to how midi-chlorians exist in my mind. With this understanding, the Force itself is still the mystical and spiritual force it was before 1999 and nothing has really changed about my understanding of how it works. However, knowing that midi-chlorians exist, I can now accept them as a simple measuring tool that the Jedi found to help them determine different levels of Force ability.

I know that many fans have created their own personal canon and chosen to completely write off the prequels and the midi-chlorians, but hopefully this new interpretation can help you allow them back into your Star Wars fandom by allowing midi-chlorians and a mystical Force to coexist.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

-Mitchell

Fate of the EU… Uh, Jedi – SWBTF #21

Welcome back to Star Wars Beyond the Films!

EDITORS NOTE: Ahead there be spoilers…. consider this your warning!
This week Mark and Nathan are joined by Intrepid Bothan Reporter and Lightsaber Rattling Jedi, Peter Morrison, to discuss the Fate of the Jedi series as a whole.

Mark ponders the excerpt at the start and end of the series and it’s possible ramifications.

The guys hit the plot in a nut shell to set the tone of the episode and then break down the series from there.
The series has an odyssey feel to it, while also telling a multitude of stories all enterweaved to make up a bigger overall story.
Jacen’s past was explored. Or was it? Was Abeloth TOO POWERFUL? Did Luke need an enemy more powerful than even him?

Nathan takes a moment to show his brotherly side. Did FotJ suffer an identity crisis?
Mortis makes its way into the series and the guys ponder how much Lucas knew of the plot. How much of this was made up on the spot? Nathan brings up the recent Insider interviews with the FOTJ authors.
He also ponders if the publishing group has changed the game plan and shifted to a looser planning style?
Did this allow for a more interchangable author feel to the series? Did that play into the success of Christie Golden stepping into Karen Traviss’s slot? Had Abeloth been Lucas approved would she have been the”Mother” in all respects? Instead of some being trying to be like them? Did Jacen’s story get resolved?
Peter proposes that the series might have done better had Abeloth been left out and the Lost Tribe been the main villian. Perhaps give her a stand alone book?
Mark ponders (or possibly rants) that Abeloth had to have hedged her bets and had a spare possessed body out there hidden away.
The guys focus on the pacing of the series. It almost made each book read like a stand alone. Was this a mistake? Should longer series be set to release closer together vs being spread out?
The Krayt factor: Was it or was it not Darth Krayt at the end of the story who came to Luke’s aide? Seems Denning doesn’t even know and he wrote the scene….
SPOILER WARNING: So in the end they stop Abeloth (for now) but in doing so have put back on the throne the dark man whom Jacen stopped which kicked everything off in the first place. Kind of crazy huh? But didn’t Jacen’s destroying Centerpoint Station cause her to get free? Wait, but wasn’t that ordered by Luke?
So did this give us closure? Or an open plot thread awaiting a crafty author later?
What? Nathan gets political with his satire? But it was necessary to understand the plot of FOTJ.
FotJ makes Dark Nest more meaningful to the SWEU.

Celestial, the Ones, and so much left open…. was this a good thing?? Bad thing? Or a GREAT Thing?
Random Mark ponder: Will Shelter be used to keep Beyond Shadows and the Mind Walker plots going?
They discuss Beyond Shadows, the Font of Power as well as the Lake of Apparitions, as well as Sith Spirits, Force Ghosts, Force Apparitions, Force Entities, and so forth.
This leads to pondering the “next generation” of Jedi. And how the Big 3′s story has overshadowed the newer Jedi’s individual stories.
Should the Jedi have destroyed the Font of Power? Is this something that should have been taken out? A weapon of Jedi Destruction….
Nathan touches on Ben and Vestara’s love plot. But not in a Tahiri touching kind of way…. …which leads to Vestara’s character growth throughout the series, dispite her Sithly Father’s pressures during the series.
Will this make Ves drop out of the saga? Or will the One Sith make an appearance BEFORE Legacy? (Even though it would happen after Legacy was published.)
Jaina Solo’s character grew a lot by the series end.  Even Tahiri had her character go through a lot of changes. Especially in light of past series directions with her character. We almost had our Imperial Knights!

The personal relationships were well executed. All the hosts agree that was a very strong point for the series.
Anakin Skywalker CAUSED the imbalance?! Wait… say again? So does that mean Luke and Ben are the Chosen Ones per Lucas before Mortis? This leads the hosts to discuss Balance and what that means for a bit.

Nathan had a very interesting outlook on it. Or at least gives EU Fans OPTIONS. Or was this addition to the FotJ plot a huge mistake? Or one to come?

Mark takes a minute to have a fan crush moment about the Horn family

Were the Barabels the ‘sleeper agents’ of the whole series?
Allana’s back in the open. They developed her up to own her own portion of the next generation of characters. She and Ben could have been 3rd generation, but ended up growing into the 2nd.
Does judging children characters age vary from person to person?
The hosts also judge the series, and give it a 1-10 ranking and a one word description.
And sit back after the credits for a Marvel treat… erm.. we mean bloopers!

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