Fight for your Life

In the Face of Betrayal

When the newly self-crowned Emperor Palpatine gave Order 66 the directive was executed swiftly and brutally. Thousands of Jedi were immediately killed by their Clone subordinates and guards without question or hesitation.  The Temple was razed. The Jedi Order was destroyed and very few Jedi survived and those that did either went in to hiding or left the order for a life as a bounty hunter, smuggler or Rebel and continued to struggle. The Jedi went down fighting.

Many of the Jedi who survived fought their way out as their brethren died around them. None surrendered; all died fighting or overcame their adversaries and escaped. The Jedi endured the betrayal and suffered their fate with valor and courage and yet they refused to go quietly and went down fighting  without fear. They had faith in the Force and did not fear death.

Bravery in adversity is not only a Jedi trait. Although not a Jedi, Chirrut the blind warrior in “Rogue One” called upon the Force to gather his strength as he completed his mission and was killed as were all the other Rebels raiding the Scarif Citadel for the Death Star Plans and the future of the Rebellion. Their mission was a success.

Never say Die

It may not be the plans to the Death Star, but in life some things are worth fighting for no matter the odds. Sometimes it’s no longer important what happens to us or whether we succeed or not but how we navigate through the crisis and meet our end. Its the fight that counts.

All of us are engaged in a futile battle to stay alive. Eventually every single human alive including you and I must face death. That does not mean we should not fight while we can.

The manner that we can choose to respond to each moment is a personal choice. How we greet each day and the manner in which we engage in the struggle for life is entirely up to each individual. We must eventually succumb to our mortal end. The goal is still to live a good life before we reach that end.

Never Give Up

Several years ago I was a very sick individual. I had had a tumor discovered inside my cranial cavity on the acoustic nerve. The growth was non-malignant but due to its mass and location was life threatening and needed to be removed. At the time I was also drinking heavily. My response to the news of my condition was not as I expected, I was scared and upset and all the sudden I was determined to live and grab a second lease in life. I was going to fight this.

The Doctor was very impressed with my attitude but did ponder my “3-5 alcoholic drinks per week” response on my health questionnaire with a raised brow. The Doctor reassured me that patients who have a fire in their belly and a “never say die” attitude to the surgery usually come out better than those that don’t. I underwent the surgery, had the tumor removed, was out of hospital in a few days with severe facial palsy and loss of inner ear, but I was alive and would recover.  After another health scare involving leaking brain fluid I was back to work within a month.

I had won the fight. The surgery had certainly saved my life. I now had a chance to see my kids grow up and achieve my dreams.

Never Surrender

The surgeon was surprised at the speed of my recovery, but then he didn’t know that we Alcoholics are extremely mission orientated and often over-achievers. We are simply held back and held hostage by booze. Our main struggle is with ourselves, we are torn and sway between hope and despair and our response is to resist and fight with everyone and everything. I saw my fight with my tumor as a sign that I had to change and turn a new leaf. Despite all of my goals to grab this as an opportunity to look after my health and become a better person I was soon drinking and worse than ever. The Booze had me.

The same “never surrender, never say die” attitude did not extend to my addiction. Alcohol is where my reasoning powers failed and where the main kink in my armor laid, an Achilles heel. My “Good Fight” did not lay there.

In the end, admission of defeat and surrender was exactly what was needed. I had won against a life threatening brain tumor but lost in the battle against my other disease, alcoholism. Surrendering it to a power greater than my self was the only way out.

Through grace I was freed from my compulsion to drink. My reprieve over addiction gave me a sense of purpose and “quiet resolve”. I no longer needed to fight everything and everyone; I was done with fighting at least the way I had done all my life. All I had to do was take life one day at a time and resolve not to drink and trust in the Force. The fear of death left me and I was determined to live and Fight for Life. There is no going back to what I was before, the Force is with me and I am one with the Force.

I’m one with the Force, the Force is with me” – Chirrut “Rogue One”.

Choose Life

Some things cannot be avoided, death cannot be dodged for eternity, neither can illness or heartbreak or pain, they are all part of the human condition. How you choose to perceive these things and what you intend to do about what resides within your control is largely up to you. You can choose to go quietly in to the night or you can choose to go down fighting. You can choose to surrender to the Dark Side as Anakin and Ben Solo did or you can Choose Life and fight for that.

Learn Humility

“You must unlearn what you have learned” – Yoda

The words by Yoda to Luke Skywalker on Dagobah pretty well summed up the Jedi Masters assessment of the young Padawan Luke. Yoda recognized so many faults and shortcomings in Luke but also much hope. The main fear was that Luke would fall in to the same emotional traps that his father Anakin displayed such as impatience, impulsiveness, fear, anger, uncontrolled rage and finally a fall to the dark side. Humility conquers pride.

Yoda knew that Luke needed to be trained from zero as a Jedi ,as Obi-wan Kenobi had not had enough time to coach Luke. Yoda also realized that all of Luke’s perceptions, his biases and beliefs needed to be challenged and ultimately replaced with those that served him better as a Jedi.

Throw out your conceited opinions, for it is impossible for a person to begin to learn what he thinks he already knows” – Epictetus – Discourses.

As an alcoholic I am a painfully slow learner and when I do decide to listen my ego will demand resistance. This is the very nature of denial. For decades I could see the damage that my selfish lifestyle was doing to myself and others but I chose to ignore it rationalizing that I had my drinking under control, that I was not an alcoholic. I chose to believe that I was like any other regular guy trying to have a good time.

Over the years I became convinced that the cost of drinking was less than the pleasure I derived from it despite the constant reminders to the contrary. In the end as the truth became painfully apparent I realized I had been living a lie for a quarter of a century and I needed to relearn everything that I thought I knew, not just about my drinking, but also my life and my very being.

unlearning everything I thought I knew about myself became a matter of life and death.

I had become a stranger to myself, I was angry and disgusted with myself while I hated the world and riled that it was the fault of others not me that I had descended to such a pitiful state. Hitting rock bottom made me realize that the answer lay in complete rejection of self denial, in the admission of my condition as a spiritually and morally bankrupt person. Acceptance of thorough and total honesty and complete and humble surrender to a power greater than myself was the answer.

I was facing a complete transformation, the old “me” died, what old timers call “ego deflation.” I was empty enough to start learning what I needed to learn to start recovery and stay sober. For me unlearning everything I thought I knew about myself became a matter of life and death.

Unlearn to Learn

For most addicts the key to recovery is self-honesty and humility. Those two virtues are essential if they are to admit their disease and start the slow march to recovery. The only way to be open enough to learn is to finally admit that we are wrong in the first place or that we don’t know. You cannot teach someone who thinks they already have the answers any more than you can instruct a rock.

As long as you live, keep learning to live” – Seneca

No matter how hard you try they will resist what seems plain to the rest of us. It is only through adopting an open mind and a humble approach that the “unconscious incompetent” starts to “get it” and begin to learn.

In the Army I experienced the process first hand. Over the span of 140 days Drill Instructors will meticulously and expertly identify character flaws and faults that require removal and through discipline encourage the traits and behaviors that are useful to the recruit. At first the body is motivated by fear and the “shock of capture”, while the mind may be less convinced, but in time the correct mindset is achieved and a soldier is produced. This is not called brain washing, this is called mental training which is pretty well what Luke got in Dagobah from Yoga.

Adopting another view point in life can be hard if we are stuck in our old ways of thinking. Anyone can pick up a book on Philosophy and read it, understand it and think they have “got it”. The reality is most will refer to their default point of view in no time despite a conscious decisions made to change. The same applied to me in the past, I would adopt an approach, believe I had overcome my addiction and return to drinking with renewed confidence only to be completely humiliated once again. Insanity.

Humans are often not adept at learning and very often a “deflation in ego” is required as Yoda revealed to Luke and as I learned when I hit rock bottom. In order to be Jedi and find your Jedi Spirit you must review your beliefs and values and cast aside that which no longer serves you as a person and as a Jedi. Very often this will be difficult and perhaps even confronting or painful but once you do you will never look back with regret.