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.