There Is No Try

It’s hogwash. It sounds all wise and fancy-smart-pants, but ‘trying’ totally exists. It’s a thing. I’m trying to write this blog right now. It’s a phrase that initially makes you nod and smirk with all the cleverness but then there’s that part of your brain that wants to defend Luke’s efforts. Surely he’s trying. It’s that stage between ‘not doing’ and ‘done’. Capiche?

Oh. I’ve lost you.
I’m (badly) referencing Star Wars and if you don’t know, you’re just going to have to Google it, but here is the relevant passage spoken by Master Yoda to his Jedi apprentice, Luke (you don’t need to see the film to get the gist, but you do need to see the film. Just sayin’):

“Do, or do not. There is no try.”

e6d5b9740ba91b66153ea83dabca42c3Now, those of you who do know what I’m talking about believe I might as well call Dumbledore a stupid old man. Who dares to contradict the edict of Yoda?

*Slowly raises hand*

Me, but only initially. When I first saw Star Wars (a long time ago, in galaxy far, far away…), it sounded like a pocket of wisdom that tasted like a baloney sandwich . What was he saying? Here’s a smack in the face for all those trying? Stop challenging yourself, stop giving it a go. Do, or do not. But trying, that’s a complete waste of time. And my brain objected because by my reckoning, ‘do’ doesn’t happen unless you try. Except, that wasn’t Yoda’s point, was it? His round-about slightly figurative adage was not to deny its existence, or to lessen the importance of applying effort – trying is absolutely critical, but ultimately irrelevant.

I know you smart folk have already worked this out (a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…), but humour me for a moment, I have some fairly ordinary metaphors to share. Like when we renovated our house (see, I do not disappoint). Realtors used terms like ‘potential’, ‘quaint’ and ‘character-ful’, but it turned out those were my favourite attributes of our little-worse-for-wear house. We first tended to the kitchen and in my excitement I took a lot of photos. Each stage meticulously captured – what we knocked out. Snap. What we built. Snap. What we rearranged. Snap. The old wallpaper we discovered beneath the panelling. Snap. My husband’s face when he broke an expensive fitting. Snap, (that was the sound of it breaking, rather than a photo) until finally, I snapped a montage of the finished product as evidence of our (mostly hubby’s) efforts.

I was prepared, I had photos for every second of the rebuild, I could share our renovating journey with friends and family. But I didn’t. I found myself skipping past them, thinning them down until all I had were ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots. For all our blood, sweat and tears, ‘during’ had become immaterial to anyone other than ourselves. It didn’t matter we tried to renovate our kitchen, it only mattered that we did.

Then, I look at my writing and wonder what I’m trying to do. I look at the fears that still hold weight over me and worry I’ll never learn to lift them off. I analyse them, I look back to my childhood to make sense of them. I chatter on this blog. What can I do to stop staring at an empty screen dismissing every idea that stumbles into my brain because I deem it too clumsy? Sometimes what feels like trying is procrastination. Sometimes, I get stuck at trying and stop short of doing. I must stop trying to write, and just write.

Yoda speaks about the power of choice. Want it more than you are afraid of it. Choose it. Decide.

Do, or do not. There is no try.

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6 thoughts on “There Is No Try

  1. You didn’t lose me. I totally got the reference. *giggles nerdishly*

    I love this quote, actually, and I understand it as being a warning against allowing yourself to get stuck in that stultifying place between ‘wanting to do something’ and ‘having done it’ – i.e. if you want to do something, do it. Don’t even stop to ask yourself if you’re able to do it, or if you’re capable of doing it right, or if it’s a sensible thing, or whatever. If you want it, do it. Don’t stutter about for years wondering if you should – that’s not trying to do it, it’s trying *not* to do it. (I’m talking about things like writing, or following your creative dreams here, of course – not ‘should I fling myself off this cliff, just for laughs?’ or something like that! If you have an urge to fling yourself off a cliff, perhaps hesitation is advisable.) I think you’ve hit the nail on the head at the end of your post where you talk about Yoda’s warning as a cry against procrastination and self-doubt. If you try to write – i.e. if you spend ages thinking about it, wondering whether you should or not, thinking about whether you’re any good – then you’re not writing. So, write or write not. There is no try. (And you should *definitely* write.)

    P.S. I love that image you used so much, I want to use it as my computer backdrop. πŸ˜€

    • I know. Edgar Allen Poda! πŸ˜€ I laughed out loud (the link is noted in the picture itself, although I’m worried that it isn’t the original source). I think I might skip the computer backdrop and see if I can get it on a t-shirt!

      It is a great quote, isn’t it? It took a few confusing years of my youth to work it out though! I saw it written recently and it got me thinking about my writing and my overthinking and my self-doubt. It reminded me (again) that I need to do less thinking and more writing.

      Thank you for your writerly enthusiam and thoughtful comment. πŸ™‚

  2. I’m completely lost here. Meet the person who has never seen Star Wars. I feel like I’m a unique kind of a dinosaur on the brink of extinction πŸ™‚ I do get the idea though – getting lost in the process of trying holds dangers for us all.

    • I’m glad this post makes sense to those who haven’t seen Star Wars πŸ™‚ I have to say that your last sentence sums it up perfectly. Thanks for your comment.

      Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m off to take ‘trying’ by the horns…

    • How about “I’m a writer, as yet unpublished”? It cuts out the ‘trying’ and has that element of optimism πŸ™‚ Having said that, it’s probably hypocritical of me to suggest it as I haven’t told anyone I write in my spare time on account of the ‘unpublished’ bit. You must keep writing. That’s the important part.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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