Category Archives: Real Jedi Blog

Jedi, Relationships, and the End…

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Romantic relationships can be hard work sometimes. Heck all relationships really. Communication. Trust. Attachment. Many things can happen in life where we act or react in a way that puts a strain on the relationships around us. Romantic relationships are great! Until they are not (a little Yogi Berra there for you). When you are in love it can be insanely difficult to tell if your relationship has come to an end. To clarify this doesn’t have to mean romantic love. Love of family and friends applies here as well. Though my point and focus for this is based upon romantic love.

I have had several core relationship in my life come to an end. I like it is a natural part of life. We continue to grow and sometimes we outgrow certain relationships. A few years ago my friendship with my best friend that I had known since Junior High came to an end. We drifted apart over the years, ignoring those differences until we just didn’t understand or trust each other anymore. I have gone through divorce with a woman I had every intention of spending the rest of my life with. But as the struggles of life hit we turned in different directions, sought different outlets, and lost what drew us together in the first place.

It is painful to lose someone we value. As such we can find ourselves holding onto toxic relationships simply because loss sucks. Doesn’t matter how much you experience it, it is still sad to find that something that was once central in your life just no longer has a place within it. Of course strong relationships mean strong emotions and as a Jedi we know what that means – judgment isn’t always clear. And “knowing” something doesn’t mean we act on it. Just because we understand the rational choice doesn’t mean we are anymore inclined to follow it. The heart wants what the hearts wants, but when can we tell it is time to Jedi-Up and take that first bold step in a new direction?

Over the years I have ended good relationships too early, stayed in bad relationships way too long, and vice versa. Eventually I found I needed a checklist. Something to use my Jedi-Mind in conjunction with my Emotional State of Being. It simply helps me make sure I am not making a completely emotional and impulsive decision in regards to my personal relationships. So here are the questions I present to myself. Through reflection, being honest with myself and my answers, I can come to a fair conclusion. As I find myself running through this checklist again, I figured I’d share it.
1.) When I think of this relationship ending what is my major feeling/emotion?
Fear? Loneliness? Relief? Sorrow? Apathy? Usually there is a mix (anger can make appearances), but generally you can feel one above the other. And it tells you a lot about the state of your relationship. Sometimes this alone can show you if you have already checked-out or that you were truly in a bad situation. Fear is rarely about love. Often it is something within us, a fear of being alone, a fear of public perception, a fear of loss of friends, or support. Sorrow and heartbreak can be clear indicators, that you really don’t want the relationship to end. That you value it and the person and while you would wish nothing but the best for them, you have no desire to remove the relationship from your life. Still, you have to make sure that is a balanced feeling, not just chemical levels dancing and jumping around. So. How do you feel about the end?

2.) How will I feel about this in two months?
A couple days can be enough to help calm, settle, and get perspective, but we are still close to the situation. Years down the road won’t matter, because we are survivors. We have lived through a lot and will continue to do so. And even when we get tired of it all, here we are, still taking each day as it comes. So in 20 years most things won’t matter. In 200, no one will care. But two months from now? Where will you be at? Honestly, how will you feel? Will you miss and regret and be wanting to build a time machine? Or will you already be in the process of moving forward? Will you be going through the mourning stages and allowing yourself the chance at something better? No one can predict the future. But we can take the time for honest self-reflection and get an idea of what we will do should this end. We know ourselves well enough (even if just barely) to understand if we can truly let go and move forward. Which often goes back to that first question of how your truly feel about an ending. If you are already planning your life without that person in two months – then you know your answer.

3.) Can I trust this person?
No, not “Do I trust” because frankly you may not within that moment and that may be perfectly justifiable. The question is not of right now, but is that trust gone forever. No wait, that is too long. The question is, will trust be there when things have calmed down? If a person says they will learn from the situation, do you believe that can happen? Will you be able to (in relative time) trust in their commitment to you and your relationship? In a couple months will you be wondering who they are talking to? Will you be worried about leaving your phone in their presence? When they say they miss you, or love you, or that everything is fine – will you believe them? Will you trust them? Again, trust takes time, so it is okay it have that shaken a bit for a little while. But if it is still going to be an issue down the road than you ask what is your relationship without trust?

4.) Can I talk to this person?
Communication is harped on time and time again. Read absolutely any article on successful relationships and it is one of the first two things mentioned. You cannot have ANY relationship without communication. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends that if we saw each other we would pick up right where we left off. Family experiences this a bit more, we don’t always have constant contact with certain family members. However the question is can we? Can you reach out to this person and trust them to get back to you in a reasonable amount of time? Not only that, but do you feel comfortable speaking to them? I have been in relationships where I was terrified to speak openly and honestly. I was scared to communicate because of what might happen. This is not healthy, you may experience some worry, but if you tremble at the thought of speaking up, that is not good. So the question is can you talk with this person? Will they ignore you? Will they get defensive and lash out at you? Blame you? If you are terrified to talk or on the flipside you are shouting into a vacuum then the answer of your relationship is pretty clear. Open and Honest Communication is necessary.

5.) Has there been a change in investment?
Relationships require investment of time and energy. When new and exciting we often invest a lot – hours of talking and emotional energy. As things settle that can change into a more comfortable schedule (which doesn’t make us fall asleep at work anymore). This is normal, but the question of investment is important. Especially if there has been a drastic change from one side. It is the first and most used way to create distance (which is a sign of things to come). The question to ask is – would this have been the same two weeks ago? If two weeks ago you were super busy and you still were talking with this person, has that changed? Is playing a video game now more important than talking? You have to know the difference between a gradual decline into schedules and comfort versus being made to feel less important than a tv show or whatever. If someone once made the effort to talk with you and now they are just “too busy” – that is something to look at. And if you cannot talk to them, if you are being shut out, shut down, or attacked – you have to ask, what kind of relationship is that really? Remember, no one is too busy to say hello or good morning or goodnight or so sorry I am busy we will talk later. It is a two second investment and if you aren’t worth that or they aren’t worth that to you then what relationship do you truly have?

Honorable Mention: Do I Love this Person?
I don’t have this numbered because it is a trick question. It IS an Important question. If the answer is no, then there you go. Hence why I am mentioning it, but the answer being yes doesn’t automatically mean to stick it out. You can absolutely love someone and still know it is not a healthy relationship. It is okay to miss people that no longer have a place in your life. As people grow and evolve (not about for better or worse, just different) so do relationships. And sometimes we love people but know they are not good for our lives. It is hard. It still sucks. Doesn’t make things easier. But while Love can go a very long way, it alone cannot save a relationship. You both need to be willing to spend time together, make sacrifices for each other, talk to one another. A good relationship is about love, communication, trust, and working together to build a steady and solid foundation for the future. If you are the only one willing to do that -or they are the only one willing to do that- then it is time to move on.

Jedi and Politics….

How Jedi Approach Politics

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Opening Statement: I, like many fictional Jedi, do not like politics. However I do understand them and their necessity. I fully understand that they will impact my life for the short term and longer term. They have far reaching effects. So while I have a disdain for them I recognize the importance of voting and giving my say. This year has been particularly brutal, especially for the United States. As we approach elections I’d like to offer a core reminder. You don’t have to like politics. You do not have to like the candidate. But you should know where your vote will serve best and how that will affect things around you. Many seem to have forgotten themselves and their path in this heated and divisive year. So a small reminder.

One.) There is no emotion; there is peace.
Say it with me now: Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Currently there is a party waging a fear campaign. And we are seeing the results. Not just the minor unpunished crimes happening and being encouraged at rallies. But high tensions over justice and shootings. There is a lot of fear on all sides which is being turned to anger and hate. And we are seeing a lot of suffering (and death) because of this fear. This lack of understanding and ability to exercise patience and look for the truth of a situation is leading to emotional responses rather than Jedi ones. Which is generally these situations are a lot more complex than some one-sided emotional news reporting when none of the facts or circumstances are known. Patience, Objectivity, Knowledge. Approach these tense situations with the Jedi Mind.

Many leaders have lead fear-based campaigns. It is a known tactic within politics (and one which has proven to work – unfortunately), but it is not one Jedi should vibe with. We are all well aware of a Jedi’s stance on emotional reactions. We are all aware of a Jedi’s stance on fear and using fear as a tool to control people. Our decision-making is not based in knee-jerk reactions. We have a process and a method to comb through these very difficult and tough situations.

So remember Jedi. Emotion, yet Peace. It is very difficult – especially when some situations hit closer to home than others. But find refuge in your fellow Jedi, in your practices, in your routine and those that love you. And then approach the policies and topics with a Jedi Mind. Peaceful and Focused – not on the smokescreen of fear, but on what is actually being said and done.

Two.) There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
Knowledge. It is one of the Three Pillars of the Jedi. It is in any Jedi Code version you want to pick. The Jedi Circle, The Jedi Compass, no matter where you look Jedi prize, value, and extol Knowledge. And yet we are seeing a campaign infamously shrugging off facts as well as relevant and prudent information. We are seeing the media not bothering with fact-checking or holding candidates accountable for their claims and words. We are allowing the fact that so much crazy stuff has been said we are no longer calling it crazy and we are just letting it slide.

This does not vibe with the Jedi. Knowledge. Information. It is important to know where candidates stand on core issues. What policies they endorse and how they are looking to enforce them. It is important to know a candidate’s approach and negotiating tactics. In order to make an informed decision as Jedi we need to have as much of the prudent information as possible and we need to be willing to fact-check that information. This helps us make informed decisions. Not ones based upon emotional ignorance. If over 300 leading scientists tell you a candidate is going to cause problems within their respective fields which will have a negative impact around the world – that is something to take into consideration (not blindly and intentionally ignore).

Three.) There is no passion; there is serenity.
Another widely used political tactic is to appeal to the passions of the people. Because emotional and passionate responses help drowned out the logical and knowledgeable ones. Passion likes to ignore facts and information in lieu of heartfelt reasoning. There is a time to trust your instincts – but that is different than someone appealing to your passion. Right now there are a lot of hot issues which are sparking fierce conversations and debates. But allowing that to blind us to the overall effects a candidate will have is not the proper approach.

Instead focus in on the core policies with a calm and serene mind. Be objective in your views and dig into the issues that you are passionate about. Then approach them with the Jedi Mind. Take them one by one. What is the candidate’s position? What is their resolution? How will they make that happen? Be a Jedi – ask questions, be objective, and approach even the heaviest of topics with a calm and peaceful mind.

Four.) There is no chaos; there is harmony.
All of this directly ties to us and what we are looking for and want. But do not forget the bigger picture, the living Force if you will. Do not forget that we are part of an entire world and our actions have repercussions. Like ripples on a pond, the stone of this election will affect all of the water. So get the Jedi Mind on and consider how the candidate will affect the world. The world economy, the world environment, world trade, immigration between countries. Consider the entire impact.

Sometimes in politics you have to trade off impact. You don’t like this approach, but like the impact of this other policy. So you are willing to make that trade-off. It is a reason I really dislike politics. Cannot please everyone, but generally we are all making compromises during the election. Still, Jedi Diplomacy 101 – compromise is sometimes necessary. You have to work with it. Determine which is the best option forward for all involved.

We have a very diverse community – likewise so does the United States – and even more so the world. It is a benefit to us as a species (and as a Nation). It is something to be encouraged. So how does the candidate approach diversity acceptance? How do they handle and deal with different cultures and lifestyles and beliefs? This is valuable insight, because this view tends to effect policy and laws. It tends to highlight how people will be treated within the country and how the candidate will approach these issues on a global scale.

Five.) Honor Life / Respect All Life.
Instead of finishing out the Code here, because it got real dark in my first draft. I wanted to highlight something that is like Knowledge. Something that is core to all Jedi across the board. No matter the text you find a Jedi ideal of respecting and honoring life. Yet we see people support dehumanizing and degrading analogies. We see mass insults of entire cultures and heritages. We see a complete lack of understanding of different life experiences (the environment we grow up in will color our world view). Campaigns waged not only in fear and ignorance, but also a complete lack of respect for the diversity of life.

For a Jedi we have to look at the bigger picture. We have to understand that there are a million sides to every story. We will never know all the facts and the complete truth of all situations. But what we can do is honor and respect life. We can help foster an environment where life can thrive and grow in a positive and beneficial manner. That starts within us and grows outward, but it is also within our voting rights. We get to have a say on the world we want to live in. From your local City Council, to your Mayor to Congress, to the President. What is your value of life – what life would you like to see thrive? What life is conducive to the Jedi Way?

Closing Thoughts: Approach politics as you would all things – as a Jedi. Knowledge. Objective Information. Calm Fact-Checking. Looking at the policies not the hyperbole and smokescreens of emotional appeals. In other words – Emotion, yet Peace. Ignorance, yet Knowledge. Passion, yet Serenity. Chaos, yet Harmony. Remember the topics that mean the most to your. Rights, Laws, Education Reform, economics and the increasing gap between the classes. Be a Jedi, determine your stances, and which candidate best helps keep this ship floating until we can actually fix this broken thing. So if you can – get out and vote. And may the Force be with you.

Pokemon Go + Jedi = Charity!

First off I have to say I haven’t been into Pokemon for a long time. It is not really my thing, but when I was younger and it was relatively new – I did partake in the cartoon and games. But now they have released this new App Pokemon Go and it is not only pretty fun, but has really encouraged kids (of all ages) to get outside and walk around. So how does that work? Well it is simple. Pokemon Go is a ARG – Alternate Reality Game. In which you use your phone to track your movement/walks and stumble upon Pokemon out in the world. When that happens you pull up your camera and you use Poke Balls to catch the Pokemon. You collect as many as possible. And you find new Pokemon by going to new locations. Parks and major shopping areas tend to have stores and Gyms where you can connect with others. Overall it is a pretty interactive and fun little App that encourages outdoor exploration.

This has really come in handy in a couple service projects I am a part of. One is a little more limited in application – as it is with the Big Brother (Big Sister) program. And has really helped turn our little hikes into more regular events and much more interactive as well. This has been a great thing as we were struggling in common ground activities there for a bit. Especially in more active (and free) activities.  So this has help create a fun way to hike around and explore the city we live in. Driving to different parks, walking around the paths, hiking in the hills. It has really been a great experience. However this is a very personal experience and limited really to my current situation. There is a way to use Pokemon Go and your normal Dog Walks to help a great organization.

The WoofTrax App (http://www.wooftrax.com/) is a great thing I have been using recently which tracks your dog walks and helps support a local shelter in your area (or if there is not one in your area – a animal shelter of your choosing). Can you see the connection? Download WoofTrax, Download Pokemon Go, get out there and catch them all at the same time as supporting a great organization. If you don’t have a dog you can virtually walk their own rescue dog. This has been a great blend of modern technology, internet fade, and doing some community service.

No one said Community Service had to be trying, boring, or no fun. Blend your passions. Be a Jedi. Catch ALL the Pokemon. And support a wonderful cause at the same time.

Opie Rant: Why I’m Starting to Dislike “National” Jedi Gatherings

So as someone who has been to many “National” Jedi Gatherings. As well as someone who has met a lot of Jedi individually and been to smaller Jedi meet-ups and regional Gatherings. I am often asked my opinion of such events and what it is like to meet other Jedi. In a recent post on facebook I joked about the ability to deal with your peers in the community and remain sober at the same time. Or to be more accurate I quoted one of my favorite authors Ernest Hemingway, “An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.” Out of this someone further asked why I felt that way. So to clear the air. Here are my top issues with current National Jedi Gatherings; which mainly boils down to I don’t like the direction they are taking from what they were.

1.) Location-Centric.
What we concern the First National Jedi Gathering happened in Great Falls, Montana. Two West Coast Jedi went. Two Montana Jedi went. A Chicago Jedi went. And an East Coast Jedi went. While all Jedi went to the Jedi Organization website, they all were a major part of different Jedi Groups. Alora from the JO, Destiny from the Jedi Temple, Manna from a couple different sites, Mindas from the JO but started at the Jedi Academy, Mijan from Temple of the Jedi Arts, and myself which we won’t get into my long resume at the time. This is why we consider it the first National Jedi Gathering (back then called the Annual Jedi Gathering – now National as they are United States held and more than one gathering can happen in a year).

The next year it was held on the East Coast (Pennsylvania) and hosted by Moonshadow, who would become the main organizer for years to come. The year after that, in 2004 it was held in Michigan. In 2005 the Jedi Gathering was held in Loudonville, Ohio. In 2006: Big Prairie, Ohio as well as Lehighton, Pennsylvania. In 2007 the Gathering was in Ville Platte, Louisiana (and another that year in Angelica, New York). In 2008: Lincoln City, Indiana as well as another in Lehighton, Pennsylvania later that year. In 2009: Tower Hill Camp, Sawyer, Michigan. In 2010: Tower Hill Camp, Sawyer, Michigan. – No that is not a mistake. In 2011: New Caney, Texas. In 2012: Logan, Ohio. In 2013: Cosby, Tennessee. In 2014: Almont, Michigan. In 2015: Was suppose to be in Colorado. A year long planning was already in the works. However Chicago Jedi and future Indiana Jedi wanted to host one. So they usurped 2015 and the National Gathering was held in Martinsville, Indiana.

2016 is set for Oregon, Illinois. You know, an hour outside Chicago basically. Have you detected a trend or pattern? 10 out of 15 have been in a very specific area of the United States. I find this to be a form of exclusion. It keeps it to a specific location and group of people. As such you get an insular view and growth becomes limited. It becomes a cool kids club. And evidence of this already happening has been evident the past couple of years – none moreso than the usurping of the national gathering to keep it close and help someone get to knighthood faster. To be fair – this supposedly will be changing next year and routing locations every year. We shall see if Midwest Jedi like that idea.

2.) “Mandatory” Classes and Schedules.
In the beginning gatherings were very organic. No classes and definitely no schedule. Ideas, sure. Thoughts on what we might do at a location? Absolutely. But nothing was planned out. Mostly you went – Jedi got together. Discussions were had. And people would offered by classes and teachings. As the gatherings grew loose schedules were put into place. Someone wants to teach reiki? They say so. And when we have some time – “Hey guys. I am going to show Jedi So-So some Reiki, anyone else want to join?” And bam! Jedi Learning time. Now it is a strict schedule that implies that classes are mandatory – as other events are listed as “optional” while classes are not. Due to this lack of organic sharing the classes have changed a bit in tone and structure. It is a bit hard to fully write out because it certainly doesn’t apply to everyone who holds a class. But there is a sense more of spotlight desire and less on actual sharing of knowledge and technique. The feeling between the 2015 National Gathering and the 2016 California Gathering was night and day. And this was one of the major differences.

3.) Room Assignments.
One of the things that I always thought was interesting about gatherings was how sleeping arrangements came about. Basically it was everyone staying up late, holding discussions on various Jedi topics. Laughing, having a good time. And as it got later, Jedi would slowly bow out and go claim a bed. This automatically helped put Jedi together with a similar sleep schedule. It obviously also allowed Jedi who wanted to stay up and talk to find sleeping arrangements near one another. And if one room was a bit more rowdy they tended to automatically find each other before night time even began. There was no pre-arrangement – no one told you who you were sleeping with.

Now you are just put together according to the whims of the organizer. Which I find silly. You get stuck with people who snore and go to bed early? That is just your lot. You like to go to bed early and get up early? But two of your roommates hit it off and are chit-chatting all night? Tough break. If there is extra beds and two people want to grab a room to avoid disturbing others? So sorry. It is almost like we cannot trust Jedi to be adults. Which brings us to our next issue.

4.) Prohibiting Alcohol.
As the gatherings grew in number, drama became more commonplace. This happens with any meeting of multiple individuals with diverse backgrounds and opinions. This is not a bad thing. It is part of what makes our community interesting, fun, and educational. Last year a person went around an entire night bad mouthing another “Jedi”, questing if they were worthy of that title. Someone else crossed personal boundaries. As alcohol was present (though neither offender partook of said alcohol) the blame was placed there instead of the individual behavior. This has happened at all gatherings since 2012. Incidents happen which are interesting and some take issue with. And since alcohol is present it takes the blame instead of holding the individual Jedi accountable and responsible for their actions. So places are specifically looked for which prohibit alcohol as a way for the organizers to defer responsibility. “They didn’t ban alcohol. It is the rules of the place.”

I find this childish. Jedi who are adults – who take vacation time to attend these gatherings – should be allowed to consume whatever legal substance they desire. Want to drink that horrible for you soda? Cool. You’re an adult and allowed to take responsibility for your own behavior, training, and life as a Jedi. Want to have a beer or mead? Cool. You’re an adult and allowed to take responsibility for your own behavior, training, and life as a Jedi.

5.) Monetizing Gatherings.
Marketplace. Selling Ad. With no clear indication where said money is going. Maybe to helping other Jedi come to future gatherings? Maybe? Hopefully? But who manages that? What oversight is there? What allows one person to earn that money over another? What happens if the person in-charge of the money decides to leave the Jedi Path? What if they are not involved with next year’s national gathering because it is suppose to change locations (east or west coast)? Not that has been said where the money is going – but I have heard that as the most popular choice – a gathering fund.

More then any of that – Why are Jedi the Charity? Jedi is a lifestyle not a charity. We are suppose to be helping others. If you cannot help yourself than going to a Jedi Gathering should not be your top priority. You save up. You budget. A year out. Two years out. You plan, you save, if it is that important you make it happen. 10 dollars a month for two years. 240 dollars right there. That will easily get you a spot. The average price to attend over the past couple of years has been about 200 dollars. Need to travel there? Greyhound. Save 20 dollars instead of ten. Bam. You are at the 2018 Gathering. Jedi help themselves so that they may better help others. If you cannot help yourself – how can you fulfill the Jedi goals of service?

Be a Jedi. Live as a Jedi. If you do that. If you truly embrace the path fully. I promise you’ll be in a position to go to a Jedi Gathering within a couple of years. No doubt in my mind. Maybe even one – depending. It is withint he realm of possibility. So there is no reason for these things to start turning into money machines for the hosts. It is a service. It is something for Jedi to celebrate being Jedi and sharing their experiences and knowledge with one another. But more and more it is turning away from that. I feel next we will be paying for individual classes of so-called Jedi who purchased a booth to spout their rhetoric. And does that really sound like any sort of fun?

Physical Wellness

I think this is a topic that is automatically misunderstood because people allow their own insecurities and fears to color the topic. And the more a person allows this aspect of their life to stagnate the more the topic seems daunting and unnecessary. After-all, one has lived this long not worrying about, so why does it matter? They are already preparing to argue against a daily work-out routine. Ready with excuses on why they can’t run or jog. But it isn’t even about that.

This is just about being healthy. Yes, get active. Sure, get “in shape” whatever the hell that means. But mainly – just be mindful of your physical well-being. A personal example is something I wrote about once in this little journal. I had a hernia. Originally I was given the wait and see approach. The type of hernia I had (there are many different kinds) isn’t always considered dangerous. And mine was so small, it wasn’t a concern to the doctor. Of course, I am a crazy monkey that does enjoy being active. I love reacting Dagobah Jedi training. Give me mud runs, swing from ropes, handstands, full body workouts. Lets do this. Anyhow – that type of activity is not really helpful to a hernia. So after a couple of years of Spartan Races and very active Jedi Living it got progressively worse. Until one Spartan Race I seriously made it worse. I then ran another Spartan Race a few months later (it was for a charity and I couldn’t back out), in which made it so I had to get surgery. That is why they take a wait and see approach sometimes, because the only way to fix the type of hernia I had was with surgery.

So last Thursday (a week ago) I underwent surgery. The surgeon told me that I was right to get it fixed right away. It was at a very dangerous level and had grown large. I have spent the last week healing up. This is a part of physical wellness. Surgery, Medication, Doctors, your personal health is what we are talking about. Resting in bed for a week when I’d rather be doing anything else. Not being able to begin slowly working out again for another 6 to 8 weeks from now. Which I dislike. I feel like I am wasting away and getting fat at the exact same time. I can’t keep up my Luke in the swamps training. I can’t even do my little morning exercises I encourage other Jedi to do. No runs. Heck I still cannot even take my dog for his walks because he gets excited and pulls on the leash and that strain is too much. But this resting and healing is a core part of physical wellness.

When sick – don’t push yourself. Your body is telling you. Yo! Need some rest to fight this internal battle. So help out. Get the Orange Juice, get bed rest, and allow yourself to heal up. Part of being healthy is taking care of your health. Amazing I know. Break through wisdom right there. But it seems so many overlook that simple and obvious premise. So busy that one cannot spare time to rest and heal. Stop, Rest, Revitalize, and then you’ll be able to attack the day again at 100%.

Ethics, They Matter

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In a recent – shall we say – discussion there was an issue raised of ethics being included in teaching techniques. Now this is something I have been embattled with for years (so a raw subject for me, one could say). The Jedi Community since the beginning has put technique and “powers” and martial arts and all this stuff first (because philosophy and ethics are boring – lightsabers and force powers are exciting). It is the forefront of most training programs (even the main website is proof of that). Funny enough this is even touched on in the role-playing guides as Lightsaber Syndrome. Here is a technique for energy manipulation. Here is a technique on how to dislocate a joint. Here is a technique on Subverting someone’s Free Will. And that is it. There is no ethical lesson, disclaimer, or meat to it. Just, here is a gun – use it responsibly.

The idea being – Well, we are all Jedi. So ethical education doesn’t need to be said. Which I cannot even comment on without saying some unJedi-like things. Because that type of thinking leads to Jedi who have been around for years and they don’t see an issue with removing and subverting a person’s right to chose (dominating a person’s mind). No problem with tricking a person into doing what the Jedi wants. After-all it is a Jedi doing it – so it must be for a good reason yes? No danger in that at all. No abuse of power possibilities what-so-ever. Because no Jedi has ever fallen or made mistakes or lost the struggle to power. Nope. Never happened and never will.

I get it. Ethics is a very murky subject. One the Philosophical community has been debating and working through for centuries. What makes an Action “Right” or “Proper”? What makes an Action “Wrong” or “Evil”? These are very big questions which have a lot of different answers available to them. So it can seem like a tough subject to tackle. However the Jedi is not some subjective Path which is solely left to personal interpretation. There are rules to which we adhere. A core we all must follow – in one form or another. That includes ethical action.

Yet it is a topic so overlooked in the Jedi Community it is scary. What are the ethical values of the Jedi? When is a bad technique a good one to use? How does a Jedi determine that their actions are Right? So far I have seen people claim a stance that – well they are a Jedi – so they are right. No ethics needed. But if Jedi don’t get any ethical education, how can we assume Jedi know what constitutes ethical action?

Most Jedi will fall back to Utilitarianism for their ethics. “The greatest good for the greatest number.” It is okay to punch someone if it helps other people. It is okay to subvert a person’s free will if it helps other people. It is okay to steal bread to feed children. It is okay to be a complete jerk as long as it helps other people. I mean that’s why the Jedi why love me right? Me being a raging jerk helps educate other people – ergo I am a shining example of a Jedi. Right? I am justified in my actions, right?

Of course not. Because Jedi do not believe “the ends justify the means.” In fact there is a very rigid thought against this ethical code. It is often even labelled as Sith Thought. This Ethical School of Thought is called Consequentialism. Meaning the Consequences of your actions (good or bad) are the only thing that matter. The Outcome is what defines an Action as Good or Evil. This is not something Jedi hold to – even with the greatest good attached to it. Why?

Because how you do something is just as important as what happens because of it. Your Intentions matter, yes. Your Actions matter, yes. And the Outcome matters, yes. One does not override the other. As Jedi we are bound to a certain rule of ethics (I call it the Jedi Method) – Jedi Intention + Jedi Action = Jedi Outcome.

This is basic Rule Utilitarianism. Jedi want to do the greatest good for the greatest number. But they must do so within the confines of the Jedi Path. They must do so within the ethical values of the Lifestyle they live. This means adhering to the Jedi Code, the Jedi Rules of Behavior, the Jedi Compass, the Jedi Circle, the Jedi Precepts, the 33 Teachings of the Jedi, take your pick (heck, choose all of them). There is this core of the path to which we must adhere.

My Point – Do not neglect your ethical studies dear Jedi. Do not assume a person is always right just because they wear the Jedi title. Righteousness has harmed more people than most like to admit. What you do – How you do it – These things matter. Don’t go the Quick and Easy Path. Yes, it is easier to subvert free will than talk things through. Easier to punch a person than show them why people want to punch them. But that really isn’t the Jedi Way now is it?

Now if you are curious about ethics and how they apply to the Jedi. You can brush up on Deontological Ethics, Ethics of Care, and Rule Utilitarianism. Then combined with your experience and knowledge as a Jedi (along with whatever Jedi Texts you like the most, Compass, Circle, Maxims, Teachings, etc.) and determine which you feel best fits the Jedi Way and Why. Cause Homework is fun! (I mean I actually enjoy repeating this assignment, but I also love the philosophy way more than the “cool” aspects of being jedi; so you know grain of salt and all that.)

Your words mean something to me

Troublemaker Lover like Fire

So I recently received a message on Tumblr thanking me for doing what I do. And I started to write a reply and realized there was something I really wanted to talk about. And instead of drowning out the Thank you message I decided to make a post here. So here is the issue. I suck at Gratitude and Compliments. I am at a loss. Most of the time I will deflect with a simple thank you and then shut up as if I just sold my voice to Ursula for a pair of legs. Or my main go to is self-deprecating humor. “I got your book Opie.” – “Oh! I am so sorry for you. I apologize for that.” Now most tend to throw this in the self-esteem category. And at one time – that was absolutely correct, but as a Jedi have worked hard on that. Some throw it into the misplaced humility – trying to play at being humble in other words. But again, the whole Jedi thing has ensured this is not the case either. So what is it? Why is it that every time someone thanks me for me work that it is like a little Jedi Trial for me?

When I joined the Jedi Community it was a lot different than it is now. Maybe on the surface it looks pretty similar, but it is very different. The support, the understanding, the experience, all of this was non-existent. We were all kids playing Jedi. Didn’t matter how wise someone thought they were. How well they knew Star Wars quotes. Or Campbell. Or Taoism. Or Stoicism. Or whatever. It was all book knowledge. There was no understanding of application. There was no one who had been living so ingrained in their lives that they had a core understanding of what it meant to live and call yourself a Jedi in everyday life. And because of that there were a lot of mistakes made. And I felt almost like I was lied to. That the Jedi Community was a fraud. I came in search of a Jedi Master – someone who could help me become a Jedi Knight for real. And instead I found Cronyism and Nepotism – which left me (along with many others) with positions and titles I was nowhere near ready for. I wanted to be a Jedi in the worse situations in life. When I was beat down by life – I wanted my knee-jerk reaction to be Jedi.

So I made that determination to be what I was looking for. I trained, studied, and engaged to create the material I had been looking for. I sought to implement change to training, standards, and remove the segregation and cronyism that was infesting our Community. As such I was labelled a Troublemaker. I was an outcast. I was a naysayer. I was written off – “Oh that is just Opie banging his drums again.” I was fighting, arguing, and being looked down upon the entire time. As my frustration grew my Jedi Diplomacy shrank. I’d ask blunt questions. I’d challenge things that didn’t make sense (from certain people made leaders or “Masters”) or lessons that were so fluffy and full of nothing tangible. For over ten years I was looked at as this disruptive and ill-mannered failure of a Jedi who did not radiate the Calm and Peace that we hold to our imaginary Jedi Masters. I was mocked, ignored, and banned by Jedi Masters and Councilors.

When I went through my divorce and had that what-am-I-doing-with-my-life-crisis I really fell apart. There was a lot of support for a so-called troublemaker of the Path. And the Community that should been the most help was just as worthless as when I first started. Platitudes that made excuses for my unJedi-like behavior. Platitudes that told me everything would be alright in the empty hallow way that doesn’t actually help you work through the issues. Left alone to face the darkness that I felt and the darker things I had done in my life. The feeling of failure and a life wasted. Suicide indeed came up as a very valid option more than once during that time. I was suppose to be this senior Jedi – someone with years under his belt. Someone who continually strove to make the Jedi Path better – more tangible – more applicable. I was someone who fought against the pretenders of the Path who just wanted a title. And yet there I was – a supposed Jedi getting into bar fights. Disgraceful.

So – what does this have to do with gratitude and compliments? Wouldn’t this just highlight feeling that they are undeserved and thus why I struggle with them? Nah, it isn’t that. I fought my way back. I took the time to take ALL that material I had been building over the years and live it. I took every lesson, lecture, rambling, and rant I had and read it several times over. I applied it to my life. I went back to basics. I started from the ground up and I worked my way back into a position I felt good about. I built Jedi Living (under different names) into something I felt would reflect that dedication and the result.

I cannot express how happy I am. How much I enjoy and love life. It is not great. I am not where I want to be. I still have a long road ahead of me. But that is what Jedi Living is about. Living as a Jedi and sharing the journey with other Jedi. The ups, the downs, and everything in-between. It was a renewing of the idea of Being the Jedi I wanted to find when I first started. Having the materials that would have helped me on my journey. Not giving any answers. You can’t really. But I can give my experience. My ideas. What I have gained from near thirty years of absolute failure at being a Jedi Knight.

In the past couple of years there has been a shift. I have not been written off. People in the Jedi Community have not been saying mean things behind my back (I mean some still, but that will always exist – you never escape high school :P). People have been sending me messages of Thanks. Of support. Of Encouragement. And I really have no experience – none what-so-ever – in responding to that. Praise? Gratitude? Appreciation? The Hell do I do with that? The past 13 (minus two for the recent years and five for the years I was just a quiet student and observer) years in the online Jedi Community prepared me on how to handle criticism, how to handle bullies, how to handle adversity. I learned that Endurance and Perseverance wins the day, because here we are. 2016. And somehow Opie-Wan Macleod has gone from Community troublemaker to a Jedi who gets message of Gratitude. So I struggle with that. However.

I want to say to anyone reading this. What I want to say to anyone who would thank me or appreciates the time, energy, and effort I have put into this. Just be better than me. All I ask. It may seem daunting if you are just starting out. But I have had over twenty years. And this is as far as I have gotten. I am not done. I am not standing still, but in ten years you can be a way better Jedi than me. You are the next to lead the new generation of Jedi. I fought against an entire Community and now the foundations are there (because of other Jedi, not saying because of me :P). You have lessons, actual academies with lectures based upon experience and understanding – not speculation and wishful thinking. And if somehow I have helped in your path as a Jedi – I am truly – 100% happy. I am glad that I have helped – provided some measure of information to help you grow in a lifestyle and path that you want live. I will never be able to truly express how grateful I am that you feel I have had a positive impact on your path. And if that is just one person – if it is just you (whoever you are reading this right now) – it makes all of it worth it. If I have helped one person achieve their dream of living as a Jedi in everyday life – my investment and life was absolutely worth it in my mind. So I guess if I were to try to make this a lesson the moral would be – be a troublemaker. Challenge – question – fight for what you believe is right. Because you may never get to experience it, but the next generation may very well benefit from your efforts.

So, Thank You! Be a Jedi. That is all the repayment I need. Heck just take some of the ideas and live a positive life – Jedi or not. That works to. And I will continue to do my best to create material that I always wanted. In the hopes that it may help future Jedi achieve their dreams. From the bottom of my heart – Thank you for your words of support and gratitude. I’ll continue to fight for you and the next generation. Love you Jedi.

Jedi vs. Internet Culture (aka Trolling)

Okay. So it has been brought to my virtual door much more than once today (not to mention in the previous days) that “trolling” is (once again – I have been doing this awhile) becoming a problem in the Community. And people have asked me why, how, what to do. So I figured I’d type something up that up be used by whatever Jedi Community that cares to use it. So lets break this down into the two separate issues and then see how we can address it as Jedi.

First, lets take a moment to remind ourselves what being a Jedi is. Personally I like to use a very simple (albeit altered) form of the Jedi Circle. It is as follows:
The Five Practices – Meditation, Physical Fitness, Diplomacy, Awareness, and Self-Discipline.
The Five Tenets – Peace, Knowledge, Serenity, Harmony, and the Force.
The Five Traits – Patience, Objectivity, Reliability, Modesty, and Gratitude.
The Five Truths – Self-Honesty, Learning, Guidance, Sacrifice, Commitment.
The Five Goals – Train Diligently, Render Aid, Defend Those in Need, Provide Support, and Study the Force.

Okay pretty simple and easy stuff. I don’t think there is anything there which anyone would say is – unJedi-like. There might need to be some explanations or something to make people more comfortable with the word choices, but we’ll leave that alone for now. Point here is we can see a very easy and simple outline that we can all reasonably expect any and all Jedi to be following and living by in their daily lives. There is nothing that is really Opie or Jedi Living specific there. So nitpicking aside, we will assume we can use this as our frame of reference and most basic code of conduct.

Next, lets take a look at Internet Culture. It is a very fluid thing that works very well off of interaction of any kind. It seems to thrive in conflict. If you want examples of internet culture head over to 4chan and BuzzFeed for a bit. Enjoy the variety of YouTube comments. It fluctuates between itself on love and hate and really has made a business out of Click-Bait Headlines and ill-informed reporting. Opinion pieces based upon half the information is your basic internet culture and F-U! if you don’t like it. It is silly, entertaining in small doses, but generally just people shouting as loudly as possible and as wildly as possible to be noticed and given attention. And the real catch? That somehow everyone’s opinion is just as valid and just as right. Doesn’t matter if it is factually wrong – each opinion should be allowed its time in the limelight to be heard and mocked and praised.

The Issue? The Jedi Community was born online, has evolved online, and currently uses the online medium as its main source of communication and training. Some people have an issue with this. I do not. Of course I grew up with it. Meaning in 1995 when I first found the seeds of the online Jedi Community and in 1999 when I decided to stop being a spectator I had accepted this medium as capable of teaching the Jedi Way to others. And for the most part that has proven true. And the challenges to it has helped us grow in many ways. In fact I was forced to learn a lot more about English, Typing, and Grammar because of my online interactions with the Jedi Community. I mean, my writing and typing skills still suck, but you should have seen it back in 1999. But I digress.

The Point is the Jedi Community is front and center with Internet Culture. And the more mediums we chose to use (YouTube for example) the more we open ourselves up to internet culture. And this will create conflict because Jedi Culture and Internet Culture do not equal up. They are oil and water, not Hot Chocolate and Marshmallows. So when (not if) we are faced with the troll – what do we do as Jedi? What is a Jedi’s response to Trolling? Well there are two ways to go about this. First Solution – Be a Jedi. Hold other Jedi Accountable to that. Problem solved. Of course if everyone who carried the Jedi title acted as a Jedi we wouldn’t be here. So…. Lets break this down into three things.

1. What is it? – Purposeful and Conscious Offensive Language and Behavior; Meant to incite Extreme (usually negative) Reaction. Unapologetic in its use. It is will use ill-formed sources and false facts to make outrageous and offensive claims.
2. How do we recognize it? – “Sexism doesn’t exist because men can be in abusive relationships to.” That is a comment meant to grab attention and offend every logical sense in your brain. This is why Jedi are very easy targets. Jedi prize Knowledge and reliable information. They enjoy education and growing as a person and society. So attack that with non-sense claims and half-truths and Jedi will automatically want to correct the misinformation being said and spread. The real problem is that often is misinformation is being spread under the Jedi, as the trolls in our Community tend to wield Jedi Knight and Jedi Master titles. I apologize – Very Offensive Example Upcoming, please skip if underage or just don’t want/need it – So when you something like, “Fuck you faggot. You are wrong. Sexism is a socio-political scheme made up by sex-starved women who just want attention.” That is trolling to the fullest. And Jedi Example of Trolling – “If you don’t have a Black Belt you are not a Jedi.” Jedi-Troll. Because it is silly, ill-formed, and meant to cause squabbling.
3. How do we deal with it? And hopefully stop it? – Be a Jedi. Okay okay okay. So how do you deal with it. Remember that Jedi are not an all-tolerant doormat of bigotry. Jedi are to be held accountable for their words. Jedi Knight even more so. Jedi Master even more so. – Opie But Jedi are human- They are, but being a Jedi is a lifestyle. It is part of how we approach topics, discussions, and each other. So hold it to the Jedi Circle. Is this showing patience, awareness, diplomacy? Is this objective and knowledgeable? Know what forget all that. Self-Discipline. If a person, if a Jedi (especially a Knight or Higher) does not have the Self-Discipline to restrain themselves in online communication – where one can easily walk away. Where one has to sit down, type out, and formulate their thoughts. If a Jedi cannot show even self-discipline to respond online in a manner befitting a Jedi (and I don’t mean all rainbows and balloons – a Jedi can be blunt and use Tough Love) then how could you ever believe or expect them to have that self-discipline offline? How can you assume they have self-control in real-time in-person situations when they can’t even pretend to be a Jedi online? Use it to my era’s problem, fake Jedi. Anyhow. How to Stop it? Create a Code of Conduct in line with your Jedi Ideals. Make every single Member aware of it. Hold every single Member Accountable to it (regardless of title or rank). Be Fair, Be Objective, Don’t Play Favorites, Make People Accountable and Responsible for their Words and Actions. Those unwilling – remove them. Problem Solved.

This has been an Opie Rant Brought to by the Letter D.  As in I’m Done.

Prequel v. Original

In my last post I gave my two cents about the unnecessary conflict people perpetuate. As if people cannot have multiple enjoyments and like different things. Oh! You like Star Wars then you must hate Star Trek. Oh you like Cosplay you must hate Football. You like anime you must hate documentaries. It is an absurd way of looking at life. This automatic dichotomy that one thing automatically excludes another. One big and relevant example I left out was Star Wars itself. More specifically this Original Trilogy versus Prequels thing that seems to keep popping up. As if liking one means you have to dislike the other. And it bothers me, because actors I like, such as Simon Pegg make really insulting comments, such as “I don’t really have any respect for anyone who thinks those films are good.” You judge the respect of a human being on what type of art they like? They is probably the most idiotic thing I have heard and certainly makes me lose respect for someone who should understand that people find value and beauty is all places (and that individual taste should be respected). You don’t have to agree. You can have your own option and it can be completely different than someone else’s. You don’t have to demean people who you do not agree with.

So to be clear. I am not a huge Prequel fan. Not for the stupid reasons I have heard others spout off. Such as them being “bright and colorful.” Because that was actually the point. It was suppose to contrast the state of the galaxy. That the Empire’s reign was in fact cold, dark, and very greyscale machine-focused. It was a decline in the galaxy as the weight of war and the need to assert Empirical rule over a long standing republic took its toll. The colors and feel were meant to serve to contrast. It was not suppose to be the same trilogy. People have decried Jar Jar (one very fun theory aside) which is such a minor thing. Really it is a minor character that, while poorly done in my opinion, doesn’t really take away so much that six hours of Star Wars is ruined forever and ever. That is just over-reaction to good intentions gone horribly wrong. And the whole CGI vs. practical effects argument I find silly since many who use it are fans of heavy CGI movies such as the new Trek movies, the Superhero movies, and so on. And I did not find the CGI use so distracting that it ruined the movie experience. And I really don’t think anyone can logically make that argument. And midiclorians vs. mystical energy field I find a silly thing to miss a trilogy for. I felt it opened new thought for mitochondria and how energy is infused with all life. Just another way to explore some interesting concepts so – meh.

No all the general prequel complaints aside, my issue with the prequels was more Jedi related (surprise, surprise). It was the general plot-holes that have to be filled with, “well the Jedi are arrogant and corrupt”. Which I find insulting and something that doesn’t mesh with how the Jedi were portrayed in the prequels (or trilogy). The fall of the Order is too rushed and vague for it to really feel proper to me. I think there was just too much going on. And often I felt I had to justify scenes with, “well, because of plot.” The Fall of the Jedi and Anakin I felt could have been a much more emotional journey than it was. Something that really broke the hearts of all who watched it. Don’t get me wrong, I think the actors did a great job with what they were given, but ultimately the prequels became the journey of Obi-Wan Kenobi (which I am 100% okay with) – not the Fall of Anakin Skywalker. When I watch the movies I see and feel Obi-Wan’s emotional struggle and journey much more. It seems to me more of – How did this old hermit go from Hero of the Clone Wars  and Jedi Knight to the broken man we see sacrifice himself? And when you watch the prequels you see it. You understand. You see two broken and beaten Jedi tuck their tails between their legs and practice the famed Jedi patience as they watched everything they had known and love burn and die. And go live as hermits on some really tough planets.

So that is why I like and dislike the prequels. Because it could have been more and I have to change perspective of what it was meant to be. I don’t think you should have to switch character focus to make a movie worthwhile. The Jedi angle could have been way more involved and powerful. But whatever, it is what it is. Now here is the main point – This is my personal opinion. And I know many who really identify and love the story of Anakin Skywalker. They really enjoyed the prequels and have no issues with any element from the movies. They like them and felt they did exactly what they were meant to – inspire a new generation of Star Wars fans and encourage their exploration of life and the universe. And you know what? That’s Okay. My issues with the prequels takes NOTHING away from their enjoyment. And their enjoyment takes NOTHING away from my opinion. We can still both take away our own perspectives and still be respectful of our individuals opinion. I am glad people have positive views and experiences with the Prequels. I think that is great! And the fact the Prequels did encourage a whole bunch of new fans? Wonderful and great.

So – if you are not a fan of the prequels. Fine. But don’t shit on the people who do enjoy them. Don’t state definitively that your opinion is truth. Be grateful that new fans have come to the fandom and have embrace Star Wars as a whole because of them. Likewise Prequel fans – please do not dismiss me or disrespect me because I thoroughly enjoyed the Original Trilogy more. Don’t throw me as a “prequel hater” just because I didn’t get the same thing you did out of it. As my previous post said – It is Not a Competition. We can love Star Wars and have differing views and still all embrace the beauty of our Fandom. The diversity of it is a great thing. And I am truly hoping that this new Trilogy will finally provide us all with that common ground. Like the Prequels or not. Like the Original Trilogy or not. But we are ALL excited for the new Trilogy. And hopefully (in a month’s time) we can all agree that The Force Awakens is awesome. If we as fans can show our solidarity maybe we can stop comments like Simon Pegg’s and he can see that we are all allowed to love the art that speaks to us.

Personal: Failure…

I have been in pursuit of living the Jedi way for some time. I was first inspired in 1990 as a young child and I pursued it as a child would. By the mid-nineties I found the seedlings of what would become the Jedi Community. In 1999 I began to make a name for myself in the Community and present my ideas and experiences living as a Jedi. 16 years later I have failed more times than I can actually remember. Though I do get reminders from some very helpful people in the community at times. There are only two times in my life where I truly felt I failed to the point of I could not call myself a Jedi. Much like how The Doctor (Doctor Who reference here) didn’t consider the War Doctor The Doctor because he felt he had failed so badly. My first time was not only a gradual decline into degradation and complacency, but I failed to acknowledge my compromised state and brought a eager and bright student into my little pit. That was the true failing. Getting beaten down by life and slowly sliding off the path is one thing, but to involve a good kid and ruin their own growth? Unforgivable.

My second true failing was in my divorce. As my marriage crumbled around me I got lost in the emotional turmoil. And instead of adhering to the Path and doubling up on my practices in such a rough time, I wallowed in my mistakes and failures. Instead of waking up and meditating, I’d wake up and open a beer. Instead of buckling down and working not only on myself, but my career, I played video games and pretended to be a Jedi online (which clear as day I had lost my way) – all while drinking as a side note. Instead of reflecting and meditating before bed, I’d finish off a beer, watch some tv, and eventually pass out in bed. All while still running a Jedi website, carrying a Jedi Knight, and pretending I was some sort of Jedi teacher. Another pretty horrendous failure.

During both times I felt the Jedi Community failed me. As Jedi we are suppose to be there for each other. Not for platitudes or blind optimism, but to help each other grow as Jedi. To hold each other accountable and responsible for our actions. We are to live as Jedi. And there are things in life that can knock a person off their track. I can fall back to mental diagnosis I was given when I was younger, but that would just be an excuse. I know this now more than ever, because I have faced even tougher challenges and since I adhered to the Jedi Way I handled them way better. The Jedi Path itself is such a wonderful toolbox. It gives so many tools in dealing with the problems and struggles of everyday life and the not so everyday. Failure and mistakes do happen. They are not fun, pleasant, and we are more often than not more upset at ourselves for failing than the actual failure. This happens and guess what? That’s Okay. What is not okay….

Patting people on the back and telling them they are Jedi when very clearly they are not. Over and over I was told what a great Jedi was. Look at the things I had done. Look at how I kept going. Look at the posts I had written that day. Yes – even in my darkest times I still knew Jedi Information well enough to write good posts. But that doesn’t mean I was living it. And when I turned to the community for support and to help me get back on the path all I got was platitudes, gossip, and optimistic brush-offs. “Oh you are still a Jedi. You are just going through a hard time.” News Flash: You are go through a hard time, want to me a Jedi, wear a Jedi mask, and still not be a Jedi. Being a Jedi is LIVING it. It is waking up and forcing yourself to follow the Five Practices. It is making sure you are adhering to the Five Goals and following the Jedi Rules of Behavior. If you are not doing these things – if you cannot even bother to do a Jedi Code meditation which might take five minutes out of your day (though probably should be ten) – then you are NOT a Jedi. And I was not. Yet the Community wanted to pat me on my back. And so I continued my slide, because that is what happens when you don’t recognize or accept a problem.

One of my bigger challenges was facing how sick this made me and how little I wanted to do with the Community. Of course this I why I always caution Jedi these days – The Jedi Community is Not the Jedi Path and vice-versa. With the help of one feisty Jedi (who happily acknowledges that my lessons were good enough that they help in spite of me) I was able to recognize and finally accept my continuing failure and the disservice I was doing to the Path by calling myself a Jedi. Acceptance is Peace. It was my bottom. Surrounded by beer bottles, liquor bottles, wine bottles, sake bottles, well you get the idea… It was simple – Did I want to truly be a Jedi? Of course. Not only a childhood dream, but I had thoroughly enjoyed myself when I was a Jedi – living the Jedi Way. I had allowed myself to forget that, because pain and self-pity tends to do that.

So I began the very long journey back to being a Jedi. The basis is simple – Jedi Code, Jedi Circle, Jedi Rules of Behavior – live it. Follow through on the practices. It was here that I began doing Spartan Races (as well as Zombie Runs and other mud runs). Spartan Races near me really had that Dagobah feel to them the first couple of years. Wet, cold, muddy, and definitely challenging. It really helped me train more like the fictional Jedi and that of course really helped keep the inspiration alive. To go out and be a Jedi on the course really just brought it to life more me. Much like how lightsaber dueling and cosplay brings it to life for other Jedi. It was indeed a long road back to fully living as a Jedi. I eventually was able to get to a place where I felt I was a Jedi Knight. So I tattoo’ed it on my arm. No going back. No more excuses allowed. It is about a baseline. When you first start the Jedi Path you have a rather low and basic baseline you are held to and can expect to hold yourself to. When you are a Jedi Knight that means your baseline of Jedi Living has increased. Meaning that is your new bottom point. Your worse day will still be a Jedi day. Doesn’t mean it won’t suck, just means your base/natural/instinctive reaction is that of a Jedi. When I have a really crappy day I may want to grab a six pack of beer and escape into a video game, but that isn’t my knee-jerk reaction anymore. Instead as that thought arises as I am already preparing a nice atmosphere to meditate and center myself in. I know what to do as a Jedi and I am already int he process of doing it as old habits and thoughts try to creep their way in and eventually falling away to the core practices of the Jedi. Make no mistake, this took a good amount of time. But it is the by-product of living the Jedi Way. Eventually you get to the place you want to. If you put in the work you eventually become the person you desire to be.

Failure happens. That is fine. Not being a Jedi doesn’t make you are bad person. Realizing that you are off the path doesn’t make you a bad person. It can and does happen. It is Okay. What is not okay is platitudes and false support when you continue not to walk the path. What is not okay is carrying a title and pretending you are a role-model and example of the Path when you aren’t even walking it. These are not okay. These are signs that you are still in the pit and have yet to acknowledge that you are actively keeping yourself there. Community errors on compassion. They will pat you on the back, they will tell you how great you are, all while you are being self-absorbed and dejected. Self-Discipline: You are Your Own Master – So be a Jedi. If you want to be a Jedi, if you feel you have failed, are failing, then be a Jedi. Start now. Start today. Stop giving into excuses, stop wasting time, start right now – Be a Jedi.

I have been at the bottom. I have failed many times. But the best way to guard against that, to avoid my mistakes, is simply to keep to the Path. To live it and honor it the best you can. When you stumble and feel bad for it – shake it off and remember the best way to apologize is to learn from it. Don’t be sorry – just do better. If you want to be a Jedi then pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get right back to it. No days off, no moping time. Get to it Jedi.