“I’ve figured out how I’m going to be a Jedi!” I told my parents. This would have been 1980 or thereabouts, and I was a tender young man just entering double-digits in terms of age. “I’ve created a whole exercise chart!” I don’t remember exactly the words, but I think “Han Solo Pushups” were in there, and probably some jumping stuff. I even had a head start: “Englewood” (where I lived) and “Dagobah” (where Jedi trained) practically rhymed!
Seeing the movie The Empire Strikes Back was just as life-changing for me as it was for most young men my age. Imprinting, as my partner Natasha comments, happens early – which is why she was blushing as Yoda berated Luke:
A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph!
…and she realized that she has been aware of mindfulness training for a lot longer than she realized.
Do I do Han Solo Pushups? No, of course not – I don’t think I stuck to that original training regimen for more than a day or two, if that. What I can tell you is that I’m on a ten-day streak of doing all my morning protocols completely, including working on increasing my ability to do the Five Rites. Learned from yoga friends from Calgary, they make for an easy bridge between basic yoga asanas and the calisthenics that appeal (because I actually feel like I’m doing something). But that’s far from the first ritual of fitness I’ve tried. P90X, Insanity, the U.S.M.C., t’ai chi, Pilates, Aikido, Ba Gua, Kaluripayat, juggling, trapeze, contact improv, Run, Zombies! It will likely not be the last.
The thing is, as I watched the Star Wars movies again, I realized, like Natasha, I imprinted early. I may not still want to be a Jedi…but I’m still creating practices for personal improvement, for mindfulness, to improve not only my health and spirit but also to be of service to my world. Well, to my sphere of influence, but just because my reach doesn’t extend galactically doesn’t mean I’m not still in it. So let’s say that I’m doing my best to be a good citizen of the galaxy.
As religions go, it’s not an unusual perspective.
The point I took away from this reminder of my youthful exuberance was twofold. One, don’t downplay the dreams inspired in young ones. Take them as seriously – and as lightly – as they do themselves, and support them in their dreams. If you think they’re silly to think they know what they want to do when they grow up, remember that you’re just as silly if you think you know.
Second is that it’s never too late to try some new practice, even if the only benefit you get is getting better at trying new practices. After all, I’m trying out the “Five Rites”, which supposedly could result in “positive medical effects such as improved eyesight, memory, potency, hair growth, restoration of full color to completely gray hair, and anti-aging.”
Of course, I don’t believe that.
That, as Yoda says, is why you fail…