The intrepid Ada over at dirtyolive recently wrote a post that hit home for me. She recounted how her Star-Wars-loving son was challenged by learning a skill because it required much practice, at which he balked:
As Franklin and I work through his math and he gets frustrated at his inability to master it right away, I tell him that it’s his trying that counts. He retorts that he just can’t do it. “But there IS no try, Mom.” Apparently, his inability to do it now means that he will never be able to do it.
Which is, as Ada points out, exactly the message we should all avoid internalizing if we want to get anywhere in life, and also exactly the message that Yoda conveys to Luke Skywalker:
“Do or do not. There is no Try”
I was reminded of this yesterday morning, when my out-of-town guest and I drove up and down the highway in a borrowed car as I practised for my driving exam. The exam was that afternoon, I’d only managed to secure two lessons with my trusted driving coach during the past week, and the only driving I’d done in MONTHS was those two sessions plus another afternoon when Sum and I took the dog on a hike. I’m a great driver, but don’t do well under pressure, and am more known for driving inappropriately slowly than anything else. I’ve been in graduated licensing systems in two different provinces since I was 15 years old, but had never yet made it all the way to the road test for the full driver’s license.
Highway onramps where you have 100 m to get from 0 to 80 kph then gently merge into traffic, while a stranger takes notes on your performance? Scary stuff.
But you know what? All I could do was try, dammit. Trying scared me, which is how I got to be this old without a license, and avoidance was simply not working for me anymore. The job I want requires me to have a full license, and here was my one chance to get it before the job application deadline. I might fail, but I might not, and there was absolutely no point in worrying about anything except staying calm and trying.
I passed, of course. This would have been a different post altogether if I hadn’t! The tester even took me to a different part of the highway where I hadn’t had a chance to memorize all the speed restrictions and on/offramp arrangements, and I still passed.
As my out-of-town guest said, “Back off, Yoda!”