I am proud to admit that I am a full-blown Star Wars geek. I was four when the original movie came out (it was just Star Wars back then, not Star Wars IV or a New Hope…just Star Wars) and it was one of my first movie memories. From the story, to the creatures, to the music, it captured my imagination and I instantly became a fan. I collected the figures, had multiple Death Star games, X-wing fighters flying from my ceiling and even had a pair of Yoda Underoos (anyone else remember those?). My love for the series didn’t stop when I hit the age when I’m supposed to outgrow these things. When the original three movies were remastered and released again in the late ’90s, I was the first person in line for every remake. When I had children of my own, I felt it was my responsibility as a parent to teach them the ways of the Star Wars universe, much as my own Dad did for me. The new set of movies released in the Aughts was a perfect opportunity for them to become acclimated with the ways of the Force and for me to re-live the glory days of my youth. Even between movie releases (more are coming in December 2015), Star Wars remains a part of our lives; being the theme for Cam’s 6th birthday party and providing us the reasoning to see John Williams play the awesome soundtrack live with a full orchestra. So it is no surprise that a popular motto that our family uses comes from this galaxy far, far away.
A little background for those non-followers who may not be familiar with the wise ways of the diminutive Jedi Master, Yoda. Yoda is a 900 year old green creature with floppy ears who took refuge on the swamp planet, Dagobah, when the Empire killed the rest of his brethren. He was introduced to us as the one who was to teach the main character, Luke, how to beat the evil Empire. Yoda had a unique way of speaking, often switching the order of his words but always providing valuable wisdom. During Luke’s training, when our hero was broken down physically and emotionally and faced with a daunting challenge, he tells his master that he will “try”. It is then that Yoda provides the phrase that is a daily way of life in our house.
“Do or do not, there is not try.”
Whether it be in education, sports or even our daily work, “I’ll try” has never been an accepted response for our family. We don’t expect perfection from our children, or from ourselves, but we expect that a full effort will be made in all that we do. A perfect example of this is happening in our lives right now. Cam is going out (not “trying” out) for his middle school baseball team this week. Admittedly, Cam has been a late bloomer when it comes to sports. He has just recently started growing into his long arms and legs so some of these boys that he is up against have more developed skill sets than he does. Despite this, he has shown constant improvement for the past three years in the elevated-level baseball league that he’s a part of and you can see his confidence grow every time he hits the field. Cam may or may not know what his chances are to make his school’s team of 12 players but neither these chances or the fact that he is a late developer have deterred him from putting forth his best effort. And that’s why we are so proud of him. He has gone out for many things (sports, student council, etc.) and has experienced both successes and set backs. Regardless the outcome, he keeps doing. There is no try.
I see several parallels in his personal battle with Celiac disease. During these first few months, we have struggled with meal choices and learned the hard way about how gluten free food doesn’t always come from a dedicated gluten free kitchen. We have done our best with adapting to what could have been potentially awkward social situations. He is going through the growing pains and learning processes much like he did when he was the boy with gangly arms and legs running the bases for the first time. And much like his development and continued signs of progress on the field, Cam is making his situation easier every day by “doing” and not “trying”. He reads the labels, recognizes what can be harmful to him and has learned how to react in social environments such as school lunches or visits to friend’s homes. He has succeeded when asked to “unlearn what he had learned” (another Yoda quote) as it pertains to the daily task that many of us take for granted…eating a regular meal.
I sometimes worry that he has been put into a situation that is too much for him. I’m worried that my baby boy, who is still only 12 years into his life, is being asked to do more than he is ready to take on. But when I see him “doing” the things that he does, putting himself out there and giving his best effort, I am reminded that God will not provide us with challenges that He feels that we can not handle. And with this thinking, I have no doubt that whatever Cam does is going to end with success. Success that we will help him achieve by “doing” whatever it is that we need to do for him to reach his goals. Because, as Yoda has taught us, “trying” is not an option.