I am about to do something either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid. I am going to disagree with Yoda. I refer to his (if one wants to assign a gender) famous quote – “Try not. Do. Or do not!! There is no try.” The scene is where an aircraft has sunk into a lake and the hero Luke is being taught a lesson about what he has been taught (and untaught) and encouraged to take the necessary next step.
We all try things every day. What gives us a chance at success is that we have tried. What guarantees success is that we keep trying, keep at our endeavors until we achieve success. In an age where religion is doubted and those waving their zealous faith seldom actually live it, it makes sense that many turn to the media and films for spiritual direction.
In the movie (and book) “Lord of the Rings”, Sir Ian McKellen playing the character Gandalf the Wise intones to Frodo, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” The games developed from these movies offer, some claim, players to experience life in the game and that helps them when living their real lives. Some might claim the religious and spiritual writings of the past do the same thing. Ethan Gilsdorf is the author of a book entitled “Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms” which discusses this very topic.
I like Gandalf’s bit of advice. It is true for each of us every day, regardless of our socioeconomic level, background, culture, or beliefs. I actually pretty much agree with Yoda if he means that we must try until our trying becomes our doing and that we should do until we are successful. The first step, though, requires that we try.
The difficult thing about trying, about taking that first step, is that we must believe. Believing in a Creator or even a character in a movie might seem difficult but the really hard thing to believe in is ourselves. Regardless of what our attempt is, whether it is learning to walk, to drive or to fly a spaceship that orbits the heavens, we first must believe we can be successful. We must put effort into our attempt and that requires that we try we our whole heart, soul, and being. That is hard. IT is also a bit scary.
Last year at the Westminster Kennel Club there were two very different dogs vying for best in show, the ultimate winning title of the event. In the canine world I am fairly certain that the dogs really are just happy to do their best because that is, after all, a dog’s life and purpose. For their owners and handlers living in the human world, winning is everything. And so it was that the German Short-haired terrier’s handler and the German shepherd’s handler were waiting with baited breath to hear the winner’s breed be announced. Names of the animals are not announced at Westminster, only breeds, which is good because some of these dogs have names that would take up half of this blog. Seldom, though, are there two breeds with names of the breed so close. Odds on favorite in 2016 was the German Shepherd so most were surprised when after the words “German” came “short-haired”. The rumors about the German shepherd being the best in show were just that – rumors, fitting in a ironic twist since that was the shepherd’s name.
It surprised a great many people then when this year handler and co-owner Kent Boyles appeared once again with the German shepherd Rumor. Having had quite the career in the show ring, many were certain the German Shepherd Rumor would retire after last year’s showing. Most felt there was little shame in only winning best of breed. Okay, so there is some shame attached to not wining Best in Show but still…Rumor had performed well and was getting up in years for a show dog.
Kent Boyles, though, believes in trying and he believed in his dog. So this year he walked into Madison Square Garden with Rumor at his side. Again they won best in breed and advanced to the coveted best in breed category. I do not own a German shepherd but some friend recently got a four-month-old German shepherd puppy. The trademark standing ears are not present at birth and it has been fun to watch my friends’ puppy advance from having big ears that folded on top of her head to the traditional standing up ears German shepherds are known to have. So it was with some but not a great deal of interest that I watched the German Shepherd approach the showing stand. Then I heard the story of last year’s failure.
I appreciate failure because it is life’s greatest lesson. I don’t particularly like to fail; who does? Still, failure can be a great lesson if we allow it to teach us something. Last night, Kent Boyles proved his faith in his dog was not just a rumor, it was real. Rumor won best in show and proved to us all that life is about trying. Giving up assures us failure but giving something one more try is the next step to wining.