The Clockwork Man

Copyright: Lucas Films

Anakin is gone…. I am what remains

You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker…I did” – Darth Vader

Have you ever had the notion that you are more than one personality and that at times your persona changes? Rarely are you conscious that it is happening. At times you are left confused or surprised at your own behavior noting that it is out of character. It is for one of your personas but not the other. If you can relate you probably wonder at times “who am I?”.

Who are we, really?

Carl Jung had two distinct personalities that he became aware of early in life. One was a young lad and the other an old man. Jung put down the manifestations of these personas as the development of facets of his psyche and the function of a deep subconscious. There were aspects of the spiritual to the manifestations of these personalities in Jung’s estimation that could not be explained by psychology. As a child Jung was sensitive and often had visions and lucid dreams that purveyed deep and profound messages that he could only decipher decades later. For most of his life Jung lived within a “myth” of himself, only becoming fully integrated later in life.

A long time ago when I resided in Israel, I struck a friendship with a hippy from Canada in the “Holy City”. Let’s make it clear that I was not there for any spiritual reasons but strictly to party. The city of Jerusalem was almost deserted of tourists because the First Gulf War was raging. There was not much to do but eat, drink and sleep. One night we ventured out and hit the bars and nightclubs in West Jerusalem and sometime in the early morning found ourselves in the completely deserted old city.

The walls and towers were mostly in shadow, the streets were empty and only dim light showed the way along the cobbled streets and avenues of the Armenian and Arab quarter. By this now I was completely drunk and dragging my friend in tow went on an adventure climbing the walls and battlements, entering dark passages and stealing into ruins all the while oblivious to the danger of being spotted by a police or military patrol and being potentially arrested or even shot. I was someone else, in a different time, having an adventure cut straight out of the Arabian Nights. After a while, the early morning call to prayer sounded from the local mosques, almost deafening, awaking me from my drunken reverie as my friend grabbed me and said we needed to go home.

Later that day I awoke in the hostel and found my friend already up. After seeing that I was back to myself he laughed and told be about the night before. There was a bar, then another bar, then a nightclub, a rebuff and then a slap from a girl, some soldiers, a spilled drink, an argument and a scuffle, the hands of a bouncer dragging me to the door. Another nightclub. Then out on the street and pretending to be crusaders marching on the old city.

My friend laughed as he recounted that as the night wore on, he saw a gradual change in me. Not just from sober to tipsy to drunk but the manifestations of different personas. He laughed “Dude, it was like I was drinking with three or four different people through the night but all of them were in you”. “You were not you, it was like seeing Dr Jekyll change a bunch of times”. He said that only now he was looking at the same person he had walked out of the hostel with the day before for “one beer”, “that person checked out as soon as he had that beer”. “One minute you were having a laugh and the next you’d go all dark and be like this completely different person, man it was freaky”.

When I think back to being drunk, I remember having experiences that were almost out of body. I was there, it was me talking, laughing, drinking, swearing, singing, dancing, fighting, falling over, vomiting being the funny guy and being the ugly drunk. But it wasn’t me. Part of me was standing in the background watching silently. Who was I, really?

Now that I’m sober, I am aware of three distinct personalities. One I will call the child, the other is the shadow, the last is the Clockwork Man. The child is the creative free persona who would prefer to be left alone to read, write, play video games, exercise, spend time in nature and basically enjoy life and its pleasures. The child does not like being told what to do, he hates authority and resents being controlled by others. Is prone to sulk and throw tantrums. Work and other responsibilities is a burden and a curse to the child. If the child could do anything it would be to abandon all of his responsibilities and embark on a grand adventure. The child lives in a sort of a fantasy world, spontaneous, reckless and impulsive.

The shadow is the dark persona that resides deep within the shadows of my psyche. It is the beast that is chained but not completely restrained. It is the darkness that wells up in the form of anger, resentment and callousness. The persona might appear during a HALT moment. It can be frightening and reminds me of my potential to do harm to self and others. The shadow was the persona that kept a grip on alcohol for all of those decades. It is the Dark Side that lurks in the cave on Dagobah. It waits for a chance to reclaim its lost hold.

The Clockwork Man is the persona that resides between the reckless abandon of the child and the self-destructive nature of the shadow beast. It is the functional being that exists within the constraints of society as a productive individual. The persona, gets up in the morning, attends to his duties, pay his taxes and meets his obligations. The man is sober, attends to his physical, mental and spiritual needs while caring for the needs of others. This is the ego-persona that other people will mostly see and interact with. The shadow looks down at the man in contempt while the child sulks. As an ego-persona, the Clockwork Man is incomplete and will remain incomplete without integrating the child and the shadow so that the “Higher Self” can emerge.

Carl Jung integrated his personalities and found the cure for many patients by finding the path for them to identify, expose and finally integrate their conflicting and divergent personas that manifested in states of psychosis. Alcohol manifests a state of psychosis. In alcoholics that state is advanced and sometimes acute. How often have we heard “one’s true nature comes out after a few drinks”? Abstinence will suppress the hidden persona while recovery deals with them by admitting and confronting our self-destructive traits and character flaws. Integrating the inner child and the shadow. Deflating the ego. Eventually, through effort and time, that part of us that resides silently in the background quietly watching and guiding emerges as the “Higher Self”.

In the final episode of “Kenobi” Obi-wan meets “Anakin”. During the ensuing lightsaber duel, Anakin is stuck in the head and part of his helmet comes off revealing a scarred and tortured face. Anakin’s eyes are unmistakable. For all the terrible flaws in “Kenobi”, this moment took my breath away. This is the crucial moment at which “Anakin” reveals himself as “Darth Vader”. The one called “Anakin” no longer exists in mind or body, he is dead and the “Demon” that is “Darth Vader” has finally revealed himself. Of course, that is not the whole story. Anakin did not die, he was not killed by Vader. Anakin continued to live in some deep recess of Vader’s psyche consumed by the Shadow.

It was only more than a decade later when forced to choose between the love for his children or slavery to the Emperor did Anakin finally fully integrate and allow his true self to emerge. The child, the man, the Jedi and the shadow converged as the light and dark sides of the Force came together. At that moment Anakin become transcendent and unified with the Force, he came to know his “Higher Self”.

Everyone finds themselves conflicted between their ego persona, their shadow and their true self. Alcoholics are no exception; we just experience the extremes of that conflict in a  war with ourselves. Perhaps when we are drunk the door is flung open, no restrains on the psyche and Mr Jekyll is given free rein.  In recovery we find the peace and serenity of a “Higher Power”. There that find our “Higher Self” and become integrated. The purpose of being is to ask, “Who am I?” and to go out and find the answer.

Who are you?

Courtesy to Auralnauts. Visit and subscribe: https://www.youtube.com/c/Auralnauts

Larry’s Story

The story being told in ‘Star Wars’ is a classic one. Every few hundred years, the story is retold because we have a tendency to do the same things over and over again. Power corrupts, and when you’re in charge, you start doing things that you think are right, but they’re actually not.” – George Lucas

You told me there’s a bar here” – Larry Kenobi

Every person has a story. Every story is unique. Everyone intuitively recognizes the importance of stories in their lives. We seek to share our story and learn the stories of others because it defines who we are in the shared experience called life. 

Humanity is made up of innumerable individual stories woven together into the tapestry of human experience. Some of those stories become timeless myths which serve to communicate who we are and where we are going. Stories that let us appreciate the past, understand the present and predict the future. They provide us with a cultural identity and a chart with which to navigate our lives.

I’ve come to the conclusion that mythology is really a form of archaeological psychology. Mythology gives you a sense of what a people believes, what they fear.” – George Lucas

Every time we read a novel or comic book, watch a movie or a play or listen to someone telling a story we are experiencing something that has been part of the human experience for hundreds of thousands of years, the sharing of stories. It is a sacred ritual passed down to us from the oral traditions of our ancestors.

Sharing personal stories is a fundamental part of the 12 Step movement and other group therapies that draw out an individuals experience so that others can identify, and the person sharing can heal. This works when stories are told with honesty, conviction and sincerity. People can easily spot a disingenuous, insincere or contrived story from afar. It is not hard because since we were children we listened to stories and learned to recognise the difference. We intuitively know when someone is being authentic or not.

A special effect is a tool, a means of telling a story. A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing” – George Lucas.

There are also the stories that you tell yourself. Sometimes we can fool ourselves into believing a version of events that no one else would believe. The mind can play tricks and fabricate a story that we want to believe rather than know is true. For obvious reasons, this trap is dangerous for addicts and alcoholics. Sharing in a 12 Step meeting to complete strangers and making inventory reminds us that authenticity, honesty and sincerity is key to sobriety.

Star Wars is a story comprised of many smaller stories. Each story represents a fragment of the entire picture that is creative in nature and poetic in design. The story flows from one source and splits into many branches of a continuously growing and expanding mythology. Of this mythology, most people would only be familiar with the main titles of movies and books. Those that are familiar with the Skywalker saga know that story. Lucas did his best to keep Star Wars authentic. It was his life work after all and his vision.

Storytelling is about two things; it’s about character and plot.” – George Lucas

In the past Star Wars was written and presented with the story and the audience in mind. The authenticity of the story was what was captivating about the Star Wars franchise. The story took us to another time and universe allowing us the suspension of disbelief because we trusted the ride and took faith in the journey because it was authentic. People enjoyed the story because it was genuine, sincere and honest as well as entertaining. Once any of those crucial elements are removed, the story loses its authenticity and begins to unravel as it did with the “Kenobi” series.

“Kenobi” was not authentic as a story because it was not about the Jedi Master. The story was not genuine, sincere or honest because it failed to respect the lore. The mythology of Kenobi was upturned if not ruined. The plot was pointless and had no meaning or point. Characters were contrived and had weak development. No inspiration could be gained from either plot or characters and therefore nothing could be learned or added to the Star Wars universe. Parts of “Kenobi” were entertaining or nostalgic such as the return of Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen but it was a missed opportunity and failed to do the legendary Obi-Wan Kenobi justice.

I am simply trying to struggle through life; trying to do God’s bidding.” – George Lucas

I know my story. Mine is a story of a deeply flawed individual that arrested his decline to mental and spiritual oblivion and struggles daily to live by principle. It is no fairy tale or Hero’s Journey. My story is not one I can be proud of, but it is authentic. By being authentic it has meaning,  it keeps me sober, and the experience can serve as a lesson to others. That’s why Star Wars serves as an inspiration on this journey.

“Kenobi” reminded me how important mythology is. Myths and Hero’s provide examples and direction in living meaningful and virtuous lives. We draw inspiration from the heroic archetypes as role models and mentors. The story teaches universal truths in an authentic way. When the story unravels so does the message and that is a grave loss especially when it carries the name “Kenobi”. The power of the myth wanes and disappears soon to be forgotten and wiped from the collective memory.

Star Wars’ is fun, its exciting, its inspirational, and people respond to that. It’s what they want.” – George Lucas

And… here is a story about an alcoholic named Larry.

Kenobi

My Name is Ben

Recently Obi-Wan Kenobi made a return. The long-anticipated series “Kenobi” debuted on Disney Plus. Some people love the series, and some people hate it. I am still undecided exactly where I sit on the spectrum but at the conclusion of the fourth episode I would be reside somewhere in the middle ( a discussion for another time). What I notice most about the series is the character Kenobi. How his character develops, the relationships he has with others, his many flaws and how he struggles with them, the choices, and mistakes he makes.

I believe that Ewan McGregor gives the role the respect it deserves within the limitations and flaws of the story writers vision. Despite the shortcomings I see Kenobi as he is meant to be. Kenobi is a teacher, a protector, and a Jedi but most of all a man struggling with memories, his fears, and vulnerabilities a decade after the events on Mustafar.

The Advocate

You think the less you say, the less you give away, but really it is the opposite” – Leia Organa (Obi-Wan Kenobi)

Of all the Star Wars characters I have always best identified with Kenobi. Like me, the character is an introvert and a natural loner, but he does not shun the company of others. Kenobi is a recluse out of the necessity of his mission to watch and protect Luke without drawing attention to himself or the boy. Like myself, Kenobi is reserved, yet friendly, quiet but at the same time not silent when words must be spoken. He is ready to act but never impulsive yet at times he struggles with decisions.

Kenobi struggles to say no, especially when asked for help and finds it hard to look the other way when an injustice is being done. Compassion is his strength and weakness. I am also blessed and cursed with these traits. Kenobi is a complex character, a typical introverted intuitive, an “Advocate” INFJ type personality who is often misunderstood and underestimated by others. Like Kenobi, I am an INFJ, the rarest personality type.

If I came across a shambling, silent and downcast “Ben” in the real world I would wonder if he were an active alcoholic. I would be drawn to Ben out of a sense of familiarity because I would see many similarities between him and me. There is a good chance that I would be compelled to speak with him, to get to know him and learn his story. I would be blind to his demeanor and not easily put off or pushed away as I would recognize his trait as my own form of defense. Like attracts like.

Demons

If ever I need guidance Master, it is now” – Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Let’s imagine that over the years of sitting in the desert in his cave, keeping an eye on Luke and doing casual labor at an abattoir Kenobi has become alcoholic. Unable to drink socially in a local saloon for fear of drawing attention to himself and alerting the Imperial Inquisitors of his presence he chooses to stop by the trading post on his way home every day and buy a quart of Tatooine moonshine. The alcohol helps him sleep, or so he tells himself as he mounts his Eopie for the long ride home.

Every night Kenobi drinks from the bottle and tries to drown out the memories of the past. The voices of long dead friends come back to haunt him. Kenobi is back on Geonosis.  He can hear the cries, the screams, and the roar of battle. The silence of the desert and the dance of the flames of the fire in his cave casts shadows on the wall that come to life. Kenobi can see clone troopers fighting with droids, men cut down and mutilated under a storm of laser bolts. Lightsabers flash, troop transports and gunships explode and fall from the sky in flames.

Sleep takes Kenobi and he is back on Mustafar the heat and smell of Sulphur and burnt flesh is overpowering, the screams of Anakin and Padme seem combined, merged.  Anakin, the chosen one, is lost to him and he can hear the words “I hate you!” echo in his mind. He sees the twisted form of Anakin rise charred black and in flames like a Demon and transform into Darth Vader before his eyes. A Lightsaber ignites and Vader advances on him. Kenobi can hear the mechanical breathing and the words “Now I am the Master”. In horror Kenobi casts his Lightsaber aside and flees.

His eyes fly open, the suns have risen, the fireplace is cold, the dream recedes and sudden fear grips his chest “the boy!”. Kenobi settles himself and shaky hands reach for the bottle now empty. This happens every night for years on end.

My Name is Ben

Help me Master Qui-Gon. Give me strength” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Now Imagine Ben at a 12-step meeting. Ben would be the guy sitting silently at the back of the room trying not to draw attention to himself quietly observing others in an unobtrusive way. He would give out no “bad vibes”, he would just be there seated in the shadows or in the corner. That’s what I would do, I always take the corner and try to face the door. I try not to stand out. Ben would probably go unnoticed and to the question “is there anyone new or coming back?” he would probably give a slight nod or remain immobile. Ben would go to a few meetings before speaking but only if prompted and he might say the following:

Hi, my name is Ben K and I’m an alcoholic” (the room responds with hello Ben). “I started drinking a long time ago and over the last few years I let it get away from me. I guess it had a lot to do with the death of a close friend, who I’ll call a brother. My friend died because I failed him, I failed to show him the right path. I tried but it was not good enough. I was too late to act, too blind to see where he was going and what he had become. I was blinded by duty. Because of that he and a lot of people close to me paid with their lives. Now I am here doing what I can to make it right but it’s not enough and it’ll never change what happened. Nothing will change what happened. I can’t claim what’s lost. So, I drink, and I wait till the time comes for me to face him and myself, to end it all at last”….

Man on Fire

Only when eyes are closed can you truly see” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Kenobi is a fantasy adventure that will somehow weave its way into the Star Wars canon that began 45 years ago with a New Hope. It is a story that introduces new characters and new character arcs. Leia is a stubborn, smart, and mischievous girl of 10 years. Luke remains cloistered on the farm under the protection of his uncle. There are new protagonists and antagonists. No one can tell where it will lead to. I’ll put my own spin on Kenobi without deferring at all to the book “Kenobi” which resides in the Expanded Universe. We have no idea what happened to Obi-Wan Kenobi between his exile to Tatooine after the fall of the Republic and his reappearance in a New Hope as the mysterious hermit “Ben”.

My spin is that Kenobi let himself become “Ben” because of his guilt and loss he hit rock bottom in the first decade of his exile. Like the character Creasy in the novel “Man on Fire” by AJ Quinnell, Kenobi had an existential crisis that led him down a very dark path towards self-destruction and despair. In “Man on Fire” it is a young girl who Creasy is employed to protect that causes the embittered and burnt-out veteran mercenary to find his humanity again and give up drinking. I believe that Leia is the rope that pulls Kenobi back from the dark pit of depression that “Ben” has dug himself into on Tatooine. Leia is the catalyst that restores Kenobi to his former self, forcing him to accept the call to adventure, to face his shadow and become Jedi once again.

Memory of Hope

Obi-Wan Kenobi. Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time. A long time” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

How Leia loses her memory of Ben-Kenobi later? I don’t know but maybe Kenobi uses a mind trick on her as a selfless act of love so that she is spared the truth of her origin to protect her from Vader until the day she is ready to meet her destiny. In this way Kenobi repays her for the hope she gave him.

Kenobi is a story of recovery and redemption of a man called “Ben” and the second birth of a Jedi named Obi-Wan Kenobi. It is the journey of a man who is broken emotionally and spiritually and has cut himself off from the force. I can relate to that because that is exactly what alcoholism does, it leads to slow physical, emotional and spiritual bankruptcy and cuts us off from a Higher Power I call the Force. Through recovery we regain our sovereignty and self-respect, and we learn to replace the ego with a sense of a Higher Power in our lives. We don’t need to “see” to believe, we have Faith. That in essence is the spirit of the “Hero’s Journey”.

How does it work? The Force. What does it feel like?” – Leia Organa
Have you ever been afraid of the dark? How did you feel when you turned on the light?” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
I feel safe” – Leia Organa
Yes, it feels like that” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Hero

On many long journeys have I gone. And waited, too, for others to return from journeys of their own. Some return, some are broken; some come back so different only their names remain.” – Yoda

I started this blog 5 years ago on May 4, 2017. It was four year, six months since I had had my last drink and chosen the path of sobriety. In May 2014 I had rediscovered the Jedi Path through the Jedi Academy Online website and started my journey as a practitioner of Jedi philosophy. That was eight years ago, and a lot has happened. The Jedi Academy has become Jedi Living and entered a period of hiatus. My Jedi practice has become “normal living”. The goal of any philosophy is to live it so that eventually it becomes you.

After a while effort becomes unconscious habit. That is not to say that practice is perfect, there is no such thing as perfection and life is more complicated than that. Over the last two years there has been a pandemic, before that there was social and political upheaval, now economy falters, and the drums of war beat. Life throws up its challenges. Nothing is for certain; nothing is permanent but after all this time I am still on the path and still sober. I am a traveler who has taken his first steps into a larger world on the “Hero’s Journey”.

Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future…” – Yoda

Today is May 4th and I thought it timely to post the page from Week 52 of the “Daily Jedi Journal”, the Hero’s Journey. I write this stuck in isolation after testing positive for COVID19. Being triple vaccinated has not spared me from the disease as I expected, a surprise given this is the first time I have been bed ridden with cold and flu symptoms in 10 years. I take that as one of life’s experiences because after all this is a journey and what is that unless the path is strewn with challenges and struggles to overcome as well as gifts to enjoy. To celebrate Star Wars is in essence to celebrate and pay homage to the Hero that resides in everyone. Being Jedi is allowing that Hero archetype to come forth to better your life and the lives of others. So today, as everyday, MTFBWY.

That’s good you have taken your first step into a larger world.” – Obi-wan Kenobi

Life is a journey. To be Jedi is to seek to live the Hero’s Journey. Over the last year you have taken your first steps into a wider world and began to walk the Jedi Path. The Jedi Path has no ending unless you choose to leave it. This means that being Jedi is a mindset as well as a philosophy for life. It is something that you may pick up and put aside after months, years or decades or continue for the rest of your life. If being Jedi adds value to your life, provides a useful and beneficial framework for solving problems and leads to continuous improvement then is it not worth holding on to? If you find something better, take it.

Marcus Aurelius, possibly the closest example of a Jedi Master to be found in history, wrote “If, at some point in your life, you should come across anything better than justice, truth, self-control, courage—it must be an extraordinary thing indeed”. Even today 1700 years later, those words are applicable. What could be better than having virtues such as courage, self-discipline and doing what you know to be right. Philosophy is not a book on a shelf to be pulled down to memorize quotes for reciting to friends in a café. Philosophy is expressed through virtues, principles, and practices that are demonstrated daily. A philosophy that has no practical application is useless because it is meant to be a moral compass with which you navigate life.

I am neither a scientist nor a philosopher. I’m a Jedi. I don’t have to explain reality. I just have to deal with it.” – Mace Windu

Carl Jung’s archetype of the Hero in analytical psychology led Joseph Campbell to the monomyth and the Hero’s Journey. Symbols, myths, and archetypes are present in every culture throughout history. All of humanity share a common experience that we all recognize intuitively. George Lucas took the monomyth and created Star Wars capturing the Hero’s Journey in a way that broke into popular culture like never before.

Luke Skywalker was the Hero in Star Wars. He is a young farmer who dreams of adventure. The plans to the Death Star come to him through R2D2 which had also been the Droid belonging to his father, Anakin. Fate leads him to Obi-wan Kenobi who becomes his guide. Through tragedy he accepts the call to adventure when his uncle and aunt are slaughtered by Imperial Troops. Luke experiences many challenges and finally arrives on Dagobah where Yoda trains and mentors Luke in becoming a Jedi. On Dagobah he is forced to confront his shadow and integrate it.

Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future… the past. Old friends long gone.” – Yoda

Luke enjoys victories and suffers setbacks learning from them. On Cloud City he confronts his nemesis and discovers that Darth Vader is his father plunging him into a dark existential crisis, hitting rock bottom, from which he is reborn and returns stronger. In “The Return of the Jedi” Luke finds atonement by redeeming his father and defeating the Dark Lord. The Force finds balance and Luke completes his journey reuniting with his friends and returning home carrying the prize of his adventures.

The Hero’s Journey is the process by which the Hero archetype achieves individuation, the overcoming of the ego persona and the full realization of the self. Luke Skywalker arrived at his destiny by embarking on an adventure into the great unknown. This required sacrifice and suffering. To arrive at the destination and become completely whole, one must embrace both the light and dark sides of the self. This brings the Force in to balance.

You think Yoda stops teaching, just because his student does not want to hear? A teacher Yoda is. Yoda teaches like drunkards drink, like killers kill.” – Yoda

Within every person is a need to grow, to learn and expand. In each there is a desire to enter the unknown and find themselves there. Humans are driven to seek, explore and work to arrive at a place of self-knowledge and self-actualization. When they are prevented from doing so, they struggle and suffer. Every person deserves to strive to reach their potential in life. This is the Force.

It is unlikely you will ever reach enlightenment. Perfection is neither realistic nor possible. To practice the Jedi Code for 24 hours is hard enough. But each 24 hours is a chance to build on the previous day. The journey is to know thyself. No one knows how much time they have. Your job is to use that time wisely.

Luminous beings are we… not this crude matter.” – Yoda

Dark Side

“When you look at the dark side, careful you must be. For the dark side looks back.” – Yoda

Everyone has a Dark Side. To never encounter your own Shadow and come to know it is to never become fully integrated as a human being. Most people are too afraid to peer into the dark recesses of their psyche. They do not want to know what dark secrets exist there. They remain strangers to themselves as a result.

When the Dark Side does come out in force it is overwhelming. You can find yourself doing things you could never imagine doing before. Horrors that you thought were beyond the pale now no longer seem deplorable, they also become desirable. The Dark Side becomes you and it consumes you utterly.

No one is entirely light or dark, we are all of us shades of grey. Humans are without exception full of fears, doubts, and flaws. All of us have biases which shape out thoughts and judgements on things. We surrender to base emotions and act on them when confronted with monsters only to become monsters ourselves. This is when we surrender to the Dark Side.

Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” – Yoda

The policemen in Nazi occupied Poland, Ukraine and France who arrested Jews and Gypsies for deportation to the concentration camps were only following orders. Perhaps many were fathers with young children and were merely trying to survive. Were they evil? They did evil deeds which seemed justified at the time but otherwise they may have lived virtuous lives. Even the Confederate soldiers who fought to keep separated from the union and perpetuate a system of late slavery were men only doing their duty as they understood it. A quick browse of the internet and you will be bombarded with images of people of all kinds doing horrific things and condoning atrocity while justifying them or deflecting blame to others.

We are each responsible for our own actions. If I am capable of evil deeds, then so are you. The question is what would push you to the Dark Side to make that choice? What perceived horrors and injustices would compel you? How much force would need to be exerted on you to abandon reason and commit a crime against your soul? That’s a question only you can answer if you dare to know the truth.

Through alcoholism I lived in the twilight of the Dark Side for many years. The “Cave of Dagobah” yawned before me, threatening to swallow my soul. I dared to stare into it my Dark Side and it grinned back. Eventually I had to invite the Dark Side out to play, to look deep within it and stare it down. I had a choice. That was the path to salvation. Not any other way, that way.

The dark side clouds everything. Impossible to see, the future is.” – Yoda

What has this to do with Star Wars?

Star Wars is a saga of Heroes and Villains. There is conflict, struggles to overcome and the ever-present tension between the opposing sides of the Force. There are those that follow the Dark side who oppose those on the Light side of the Force. The story of epic struggle between light and darkness, good and evil is as old as time. The Epic Gilgamesh was the earliest tale of where a man embarks on an adventure where in the end, he finds peace and redemption by overcoming his darker side.

The Greek legends, Beowulf, Nordic sagas, and the Indian Vedas all share the same theme of the struggle of the hero to not only overcome the monster, tyrant or evil before him but also the darkness in his own heart. Overcoming his struggle, the Hero returns home redeemed and reborn. In the ancient world the Gods played out the eternal saga of birth, death and rebirth as the sun bought life and hope with Spring, rose to fully glory in Summer and then was dragged to the underworld to battle with dark forces through Winter only to arise anew in the following Spring to allow the sowing and the Harvest.

Always the struggle between light and dark. Darkness tries to snuff out the light and eclipse it from existence. Fear and despair prevail. Light shines forth and beats back the darkness bringing hope and salvation. A cycle, until, like Ragnarok or the Kali Yuga, the end of days comes and brings with it a harvest of blood.

Remember, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware anger, fear, and aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” – Yoda

The Star Wars prequels presented the fall of the Divine Child, the promised one, into darkness. The original trilogy introduced a New Hope. This time the dim flicker of light would prevail against the darkness and not falter. The Darks Side would be beaten back into the shadows. Darth Sidious would be cast down, Anakin redeemed, and Luke Skywalker would bring balance to the Force…for a time. Every story end is a new beginning.

Like the seasons the story repeats in the sequel trilogy. The light has dimmed, the Hero has grown old. The sky darkens and hope struggles against despair. A new Hero steps forward and holds a candle to the darkness once again. The forces of Light always prevail in myth. They must. The myth gives hope to the living that the darkness can be beaten back, that life can prevail over death.

To be Jedi is to face the truth and choose. Give off light, or darkness, Padawan. Be a candle or the night.”– Yoda

Yoda said, “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”. Despite his warnings Anakin succumbed to the Dark Side. Luke overcame the temptation to join his Father and submit to the Dark Side however in an alternative ending to “Return of the Jedi” by Lucas, Luke does take up the helmet of Darth Vader and surrenders to the Dark Side. Many years later in a moment of folly and rage Luke fails his nephew Ben Solo who turns to the Knights of Ren embracing the Dark Side. Luke later redeems himself as does Kylo Ren in the final chapter.

Were Dath Vader and Kylo Ren evil? No. Did they suffer? Yes. The Sith claimed that the Dark Side gave them freedom and power to control natural laws and life. The Sith did not claim to be evil but believed that the means justified the ends. Morality was relative and open to debate. Is nature not cruel and indifferent to suffering? Is evolution not evidence that the weak must perish and the strong prevail for the benefit of life? The Sith offered the Galaxy safety and security in exchange for liberty and justice. No surprise they were met with resistance. No one wants to be a slave to darkness.

In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.” – Yoda

What is your Dark Side? Have you faced it? Do you recognize your Shadow? Are you willing to accept that it exists, that you are capable of horrible and dark things? Life is a struggle between the Dark and Light sides of your nature. Which side prevails is the question you must resolve in your own personal Hero’s Journey. Remember that what you sow you shall harvest later. Whatever you decide, choose never to forsake your humanity in that quest.

Hatred

The boy you trained, gone he is. Consumed by Darth Vader.” – Yoda

Hatred is a powerful emotion and uniquely human. No other animal displays hatred. Unlike anger, which is a transitory emotion eventually burning out, hate will endure the test of time and be as potent as the day it rose. Hate is a disease that eats away at the soul and spreads far and wide covering everything in darkness.

Hatred flows in the blood. Hate is a living thing; it is passed on like a curse from one generation to the next. Wars, ethnic genocide, religious violence, terrorism, and oppression are all forms of Hate. In its purest form hate is devoid of emotion or passion. There is no anger or pride. The very emotion removes all humanity and commonality with the object of one’s hatred. Hate is the complete absence of love. There is no chance of mutual respect, cooperation, and trust where hatred exists. Redemption is impossible. To Hate is to separate.

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda

In the last month all I have seen is war and hate. It is pervasive and the world is awash with it. Where before I saw fear in people’s eyes as they contended with wave after wave of media hysteria related to the ongoing pandemic, I now see hate. At the same time the drums of war are beating as angry voices clamor for action and retribution. Fuel is being thrown on the Fire and it threatens to consume us all.

I know what Hate is. It is suffering. I lived in a household where the memory of ethnic and fraternal bloodshed was deep rooted, “the other” was the eternal enemy that had to be destroyed. The hatred of “the other” was fuelled by alcohol. A fire needs its fuel even if it burns the house down. In 1991 I saw that hatred explode into a horrific war that turned neighbour against neighbour and pitted brother against brother. Thirty years later I wonder has the world learned anything as it slides once again toward the heart of darkness.

Yoda saw Hate as the final descent into the Dark Side. Hate eclipsed any flicker of hope. The door has been slammed closed to the divine nature of the Force. There is no light, only darkness.

To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not. In this war, a danger there is, of losing who we are.” – Yoda

Anakin was driven to the Dark Side through the hatred that grew within him like some insidious tumor. The fire of Mustafa ravaged his body, but hatred utterly consumed his soul.

Anakin’s Grandson, Kylo Ren, suffered the same affliction. Ren’s hatred was so deep that he became a psychopath. Hatred had driven Luke to almost kill his nephew Ben Solo. Believing himself entitled to Justice Kylo Ren derived sadistic pleasure and satisfaction in hunting and murdering those who had been close to him, who had hurt him. Hatred spurned him on but as it grew deeper it consumed him.

Anakin driven to insanity and complete loss of identity with his transformation to Vader suffered deeply. Vader was tortured physically, mentally, and spiritually with every breath. The Hatred was complete and transformed itself into raw power. The Shadow Form, the Dark Side dominated him. Vader no longer hated anyone or anything other than himself and his Master. In Vader lay no festering ordinary hatred. There was only a will to dominate and control all that is within a closed fist of absolute power. All of Vader’s will and intent was directed there.

Oh. Great warrior. Wars not make one great..” – Yoda

Children learn to Love before they learn to Hate. Within our true self resides unbounded Love. That is why when we carry Hate we know that it is not who we are. It feels unnatural and heavy like a sickness within us. The feeling of “righteous indignation” and anger it gives us is shallow and leaves us feeling hollow and in conflict with who we truly are.

As an alcoholic I was prone to hate. I hated others, my life and God. Fear became, anger became hate. Surrendering my life to a Higher Power meant letting go of Hate. Although at times I get scared, resentful, or angry I find it impossible to Hate like I did in active abuse. The emotion is draining and like drinking alcohol it no longer brings pleasure or satisfaction, only a feeling of revulsion and regret. Now when I go online and see the Hate that pervades social media and news comments, I feel repulsed at the realisation that people feel empowered by their “righteous hatred” more than the vitriol they spew forth. Hatred is an illusion and a sickness of perception.

Then came war. In our arrogance, join the conflict swiftly we did. Fear, anger, hate. Consumed by the dark side, the Jedi were.” – Yoda

When we open our eyes to the illusion of Hate, it becomes exposed for what it is. Hate is a wall that separates us completely from our inner divine more than any other emotion. Hate separates us from our true nature and from other people. Like a cancer it grows and ultimately it destroys us from the inside out. If you strike with hatred in your heart it will stay with you forever like a dark stain.

Love conquers Hate. It was an act of Love that redeemed and saved Anakin from his living hell. Love stayed Luke’s hand from inflicting a fatal blow on Ben Solo. Luke invited Kylo Ren to strike him down but warned him to do so with Hate would afflict him forever. Love was the final act which finally saved Kylo Ren and brought order to the Force.

There is enough Hate in the world. Do not add to it. Conquer Hate and never give in to it. Give Peace a Chance.

If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” – Obi-wan Kenobi

War

This post was published on 27 July 2017. As the clouds of war gather in Europe and the world one again faces the real threat of nuclear conflict I thought to repost now. MTFBWY.

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“Wars not make one great.” – Yoda

A Zero Sum Affair

No matter what our politicians and leaders tell us, wars do not solve problems and they certainly do not make people or nations great. The killing of another human being no matter what the justification is never easy, we are not programmed to take life. Yes, there are heroes in war, acts of bravery under fire that are celebrated and remembered. War can bring out the best and worst in people but it should never be glorified. Very few veterans will relish war and only a fool brazenly seeks it. Speak to someone who has seen war up close and they will tell you it is never pretty and it is a waste of life an d treasure. For this reason it should always be a last resort and one that is never taken lightly by those that send others to fight.

As a society we seem to have become increasingly conditioned to war. It seems we are in a perpetual state of war while preparing for future conflicts. Today the United States is directly involved in conflict in no less than 15 countries on five continents. We have 300 bases in over 70 countries. A dangerous military build-up is also occurring between historic Cold War foes that is devoid of any of the mutual respect and constructive dialogue that existed forty years ago. Distrust, division and accusation prevails. Our world is headed to a precipice and indeed the Doomsday Clock overseen by a panel of international Atomic Scientists was recently adjusted to 2½ minutes to midnight, the closest to the point of Armageddon since 1953.

Last Resort

What can we do about any of this? Unfortunately not much. The Stoics suggested that in life there will be many things that disturb us of which we have no control. We can emote on a subject, we can commiserate on how terrible the loss of life in Syria, Yemen and Ukraine is due to conflict or bemoan the degradation of the global environment. Worrying or emoting about events that we have no control over does not alleviate the suffering or change a thing. If we can act, we do what can be done otherwise we focus on our place in the world and those that rely on us. We attend to our own battles at home and strive to make a better life.

The Fictional Jedi were keepers of the Peace but were sworn to protect the Republic and defend it. Being a real world Jedi means knowing which battles to pick and only ever accepting violence as a last resort and primarily in self defence, never attack. A Jedi abhors violence.

“A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.” – Yoda

 Soul Wars

Carrie Fisher once compared her battle with mental illness as akin to being in a war. The analogy was not intended to belittle the sacrifice of veterans who had fought in Afghanistan but to highlight the nature of the struggle she endured for years. Many of us fight our own inner battles, the prize of victory is survival and defeat ultimately means death. The courage needed to survive addiction and recover should never be understated it also takes a tremendous amount of balls.

“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside).” – Carrie Fisher

Alcoholics are not facing an enemy on a battleground or the threat of IEDS, they are confronting their own darker side. In recovery we change our lives utterly and in ways we could never have imagined.

A Crowded Hour

Soldiers are given medals for acts of heroism in the face of danger. Storming a machine gun nest, pulling a wounded comrade to safety while taking fire, jumping in to a burning vehicle to pull out unconscious casualties all take a tremendous amount of guts. The ordeal will last from seconds to hours. The “crowded hour” that Soldiers who have experienced in battle will know as the euphoria mixed with terror that is as addictive as a drug.

“Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!

Throughout the sensual world proclaim,

One crowded hour of glorious life

Is worth an age without a name.”

Thomas Osbert Mordaunt (1730-1809)

When the dust settles and the adrenaline wears off the Hero Soldier will be unable to explain his actions, he will simply state that his training and instincts kicked in, there was no time to think, just act. A true Warrior will never claim that war has made him “great”.

Uncommon Valor

We Alcoholics also faces a momentous challenge in overcoming our addiction and starting the long road to recovery. In Step 1 we must admit our powerlessness to alcohol and accept that a spiritual solution is the only path. For many this can require rejecting a life time of prejudice and accepting something that before was completely unfathomable. We must dig deep and inventory our history all of our faults and all of the harm we have done others. Having admitted our faults to ourselves we must admit them to our Higher Power and another person. With our past clearly laid bare we must be willing to put it behind us and resolve to change and become who we want to be.

Our actions must agree with that resolve; we seek out those we have harmed and we make amends. We forgive others and we finally forgive ourselves. Living one day at a time we seek to improve ourselves and grow spiritually as well as mentally and emotionally. Our attention moves outwards and we seek to serve others, helping where we can.  The journey can be terrifying but we find a type of courage and inner strength that endures and we change. It takes uncommon valor.

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” – Proverbs 16:32

Whoever answers the call of duty should never be condemned and those that make the ultimate sacrifice should never be forgotten but always honoured. War should always be regretted and never glorified. Never forget too that we as alcoholics face our own battles on a daily basis, often alone and without support. Our effort is worthy and honourable. We may not think it “great” but your recovery is a small light in a dark world, you are making the world a better place.

World betterment through self-betterment” – The Jedi Circle

Fears

(Source: Wall Paper Flare)

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.” – Yoda

Fear is one of the strongest emotions a human can experience. Fear is as primordial as life on Earth and ingrained in our biology. An element of fear underpins much of what we do and motivates us into action that ensures survival and well-being.  Without Fear you would not be motivated to care for your health, seek out food and shelter or defend yourself against attack. You could not survive without the “Fight and Flight” response which fear elicits when it ignites the adrenal gland and fills the body and brain with adrenaline. Fear can be beneficial, but it can also be devastating.

Fear can make us do things that we would not normally do. Fears, imagined and real will convince us to accept treatments we would otherwise never consent to. It compels us to acquiesce to rules, mandates and restrictions no matter how severe or oppressive, without question. Fear is the the leverage others will use to deny us of our freedoms and liberties and do so with our full willingness. Until you have lived in Fear every day of your life you cannot begin to understand how powerful it is in shaping who you are. You cannot understand the power Fear has over your life.

“If you make decisions out of fear you are more likely to be wrong.” – Ahsoka Tano

Imagine being at the mercy of another human being. You live under constant fear of being punished and abused physically and mentally any time. Your loved ones are held in ransom and routinely abused in a similar way. You have no idea of what will happen and have no control over your life. Imagine being a slave living in Fear. It would be terrifying and soul destroying.

The child Anakin was a slave and grew up in an environment that was brutal and cruel. Anakin was not allowed to have a childhood and had to work to earn his keep and avoid punishment. Fortunately for the young Human he was intelligent beyond his years and already a skilled pilot before he was ten. Anakin’s owner, Watto, was able to profit from the boy which bought Anakin a measure of freedom that other slaves did not enjoy.

When Yoda met Anakin, he sensed the Fear and an emerging darkness in the boy. The Force was strong in Anakin but so was the fear he had grown up with. Fear can reside deep within for decades. With time it grows and shapes like a cancer. Life becomes haunted by fears both real and imagined. Fear manifests itself in poor choices, anger, resentments, aggression, ignorance, and hate. It did so with Anakin, as Yoda feared it would and Fear consumed him utterly.

Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi.” – Yoda

Myths and legends remind humanity of the consequences of giving in to Fear. Most of the fears that are experienced are imagined. You fear an idea, an illusion, a nightmare, or a thing not yet realized rather than reality. People are terrified to leave their homes convinced that they may fall victim to crime or terrorism. The constant bombardment of the exaggerated dangers of a virus in the news and social media has led to a mass formation of social psychosis that has created a traumatised generation. People no longer consider the actual risks in their lives, they are willing to accept anything that may take the perceived danger away. They suffer in their minds more than in reality, in anticipation of something that will likely only ever occur in their imagination.

Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” – Yoda

The Hero overcomes her fear by confronting it. She will throw open the door on which fear beats and find nothing there. The Hero will stop running from fear and turn to face it. What was tangible, insurmountable and undefeatable turns out to be a harmless illusion that quickly fades away. The Hero realizes at the end that the greatest challenge is overcoming one’s own fears. True courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to continue on despite it. The Hero’s Journey is all about overcoming your fears.

Being alcoholic and a survivor of an abusive childhood I know what it is to live in Fear. I also know that Fear kept me back from doing so much in life. Every day lived in Fear is a day wasted. Living in Faith of a Higher Power has dulled that Fear by turning it over. I no longer have to be afraid of things that I do not control. My own Fear is a choice that I can control. I can take action and make decisions based on reason, not on Fear.

I used to be afraid, all the time. Then I realized that a decision based on fear is usually the wrong one.Ahsoka Tano

Fear is a natural response to a threat. Sometimes that threat is real and sometimes it is exaggerated or imagined. Fear is sometimes the correct and appropriate response. More often it is an unnecessary mental burden which creates unnecessary barriers to progress. Fear will prevent you from taking risks worth taking, from making the changes needed to live a better life. Fear more than any other emotion will stop you being the person you were meant to be. The only choice you have is to “Do. Or do not”.

Hmm. In the end, cowards are those who follow the dark side.” – Yoda

There is no shame in being afraid. Cowards are those who are unwilling or unable to face up to their fears. They choose to give in to fear and allow it to control them without concern for others. Anakin gave in to his fears by betraying everything dear to him for the illusion of security and control. To be Jedi is to acknowledge the presence of fear but train the mind to let go of everything you fear to lose. Never be a slave to fear. Be brave.

Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”Yoda

Taken from Week 48 of the Daily Jedi Journal

Reflect

In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way” – Yoda

Why are you here? What do you want from life? Where do you want to go? How do you plan to get there? These are often the questions we ask ourselves as we face a New Year. We reflect upon the last year. Some of us take time to count our blessings and successes as well as failures. We assess what went well and identify where improvements can be made. We take inventory.

What will I find?” – Luke Skywalker

As you begin to start the new year the chances are you are seeking to change. That change may be specific to your relationships, career, health, or finances. You may be unhappy where your life is currently at and you want to make broad and sweeping changes. Perhaps things are generally going well but you want to do better in some or all areas of your life.

Only what you take with you” – Yoda

Self-reflection and introspection are a powerful act which can guide us on a path to enlightenment. The exercise is not meant to be self-absorption. We are not using it to think of ourselves only in a selfish or self-centred way. The goal is not to garner a spirit of self will or to blame others. Self-reflection is to realize our goals and understand where we are in relation to those goals. This leads to self-knowledge. With self-knowledge comes the freedom to change once we decide to act.

It’s a chance for you to make a fresh start.” – Mon Mothma

Take some time to reflect on your life. Consider the past year and go back as far as you want to. List your achievements for the last 12 months. Highlight your successes. Now do the same for the last 5 years and if you dare go back as far as a decade.

The milestones of your life may be anything you consider significant. It may include finishing school and university, academic achievements, career highlights, military or community service, business achievements and financial growth. List the things that make you proud. Include your family milestones and relationships with partners, family, friends, and associates.

Search your Feelings” – Luke Skywalker

List all your key attributes that you feel describe you in a positive way. Words might include trustworthy, humble, funny, determined, intelligent, kind, considerate and compassionate.

Now list where things have not gone so well in your life. List the areas you regret, or wish could be improved. Inventory your faults to others as well as your flaws and failures. Be honest but do not self-deprecate yourself in the process. Confronting our mistakes and failures are essential if we want to move on and improve our lives.

“To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose” – Yoda

List your character flaws and faults which you identify as negative or unproductive. These might be impatient, compulsive, obsessive, aggressive, resentful, demanding, inflexible, bigoted, and dishonest.

Take the time to meditate on this exercise. Self-reflection can be a confronting as well as a rewarding experience. Unless we know who, we are and come to terms with it, we cannot hope to move forward.

A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defence, never for attack” – Yoda

Self-reflection requires a lot of honesty and introspection. We must be completely honest with ourselves and realistic in the way we look at ourselves. A mirror must be held up and we must confront who we are and where we have come from. We must face the good with the bad to make the change we want to be. This can be hard but persevere we must.

Use your time. You’ll find one day that you have too little of it.” –  Qui-Gon Jinn

Trials

I have been thinking a lot about the Jedi Trials. I am at that part of the Daily Jedi Journal where I have had to take a hard look in the mirror and recognise my failings and faults and try to overcome them.

In your training how do you put yourself through trials to test your training as Jedi?

The last two months have been difficult due to things going on in my life. On looking back I realized that I handled them pretty well considering and managed to apply Jedi philosophy, simply put the Jedi Code, in dealing with each of them.

This is what has been happening:

In late October my younger sister was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer out of the blue. It was identified during treatment for an infection. It turned out to be Stage 4, multisystem and aggressive and she was given a very poor prognosis and told perhaps 6 weeks to 3 months to live. This was a bit of a shock. To add to the pain, the public health system in this country is not great and the bureaucracy is insane. Her treatment (chemo) was delayed by a month and with Stage 4 cancer it is vital that you act quickly and aggressively.

On the same day I visited the hospital to learn of the diagnosis my car was stolen from the parking lot outside…

A few days later I returned to work at a mining concern . I found in my absence some people had undertaken work without authority and broken several environmental and safety requirements. There was a massive investigation, finger pointing, blame game and anger. People were fired, lawyers were called in. Statements were read. People lied and betrayed others to keep their jobs. I was not even there when it happened, and I got mauled. It was a bad experience and left me to question my loyalty to the company I have worked for 10 years.

Soon after there was a restructuring, and I was moved from operations to corporate services within the company. The trouble of course is that my boss, the corporate general manager, is located 2000km away, is a micromanager and reminds me of Sheev Palpatine.

The difference between I and Anakin is I recognise the corporate general manager for what he is; an incompetent bureaucrat and power seeker that takes credit for other peoples work while undermining them and manipulating the hierarchy to elevate his power and position. Naturally I have clashed with this “Palpatine” character more than twice. Not a wise career move apparently.

The implication of course is that as my new boss he would find a way to restructure me out and now he has. On Christmas Eve I was told that after 10 years service my position was no longer required and was being purged. They have another person, a friend of the general manager, waiting to take my office. Rather than get angry I thanked the company COO and HR manager for my service and left without regret.

To paraphrase Jocko Willink “Good“.

After all that, here I sit at home on Christmas Day, and I am a happy Jedi. I asked, “what trials can I put myself through to test my training”? I thought about things like running and hiking for miles, fasting for days, cold showers and various self-inflicted discomforts. In the end the Force answered and gave me a string of trials to navigate and use my Jedi training. It reminded me the real point of Jedi philosophy is not to create a fictional Jedi with physical and mental super powers but someone with the emotional intelligence and mental resilience to deal with life’s struggles and come away helping others. Its about training the mind, body and spirit to live as everyday people.

My sister’s treatment is going OK and she is responding well and feeling better. Living with cancer is a day to day thing. I realized I did not need a car and gave the insurance pay-out to my wife to spend on Christmas. The government sent a letter back to the company about the incident and said it was no big deal, so a lot of people got upset over nothing. I have come to accept my severance as an opportunity. I am better off working elsewhere and new opportunities have started coming in. I am still sober and did not think about drinking once.

The moral of the story is life is a training ground. We all go through our own personal Dagobah. We all go through our own trials in life. The difference is, we are never told necessarily when that will happen, the Force decides, and we answer the call.

Merry Christmas, MTFBWY.