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.