“I have only just begun using my voice which is now freer than ever before, and I hope it inspires others to do the same.” – Gina Carano
Imagine, if you would, being gagged and forbidden to speak your mind. How would that feel? Imagine also being told how and when to think, speak and act. What would that do to your soul? It would be like keeping a tree in a small pot. As the tree grows, its roots branch out and unable to go deeper they begin to bunch into a mangled and tortured mass. Eventually the tree begins to stunt and whither in its growth.
Humans have an inherent and divine need to express themselves without being suppressed and stymied by others. The inner divine seeks to grow and expand. This is part of our nature to know and experience life and ultimately the Force. When we are prevented from doing so we suffer and like the tree we also become stunted in our development.
Imagine putting up barrier to a child’s physical and mental growth for a year. What would that do? How would that affect the child long-term?
“Do not let what you think they think of you make you stop and question everything you are.” – Carrie Fischer
Through early childhood, school and then the military my thoughts, words and actions were highly regulated. Deep within me raged a battle between a side that needed to conform and be accepted and another side that wanted to cut the bonds, cry out and be free to be who I wanted to be. Every time I strayed from the path chosen for me I was punished or threatened with expulsion. Fear kept me in check. I had to watch what I said and did. Even thoughts had to be moderated because they can be betrayed. As the years passed I felt as if inside I was a mangled and tortured mass of suppressed emotions. My soul felt caged.
Alcohol offered me an escape. It was an alluring illusion. Within a bottle lay freedom from care and worry. I could be at peace with myself and others. There were no barriers to what I could do, say or think. I was unchained and my soul was free to fly to the heavens like some Icarus.
It was a lie.
“I cried out and my prayer was answered” – Gina Carano
Alcohol provided the illusion of a temporary respite from reality but reality never gave respite. In the morning, reality came crashing down. There were consequences for wrong thought, words and actions. I found that booze did not bring out the real me, it had created some twisted and obscene persona. That person was the opposite of who I wanted to be. The real me was prevented from being realized. Eventually the truth of that became too great to bear any longer and I was either to fall in to a very dark place and never return or recover.
Recovery can be summed up in three words; admit, accept and act. Rinse and repeat. To be truly recovered one must be honest and have courage. This means admitting to yourself and others your disease and faults. Accepting a power greater than yourself in to your life. You start letting go of the need to control everything and please others. That means having the courage to think, speak and act free from fear of judgment from others. It means being an authentic human being for once in your life. That means finding your voice and using it.
The Star Wars heroes are loved because they are authentic. They all used their voices and refused to be silenced by fear. Yoda, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo never pulled any punches when it came to speaking their minds. In real life Carrie Fischer had bigger stones than most men in Hollywood and said exactly what was on her mind. Gina Carano is not far behind her.
Authenticity means having the courage to remove the gag and chains that bind you and having the freedom to express and be who you are. Be Jedi and use your voice free of fear.
This is the way.
“I don’t want my life to imitate art, I want my life to be art.” – Carrie Fischer
“A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind.” –Yoda
The word courage is derived from the Latin word for heart “cor”. Courage was one of the cardinal virtues of the Stoics. A Roman was measured by not only his courage in the face of combat but also in his response to everyday adversity. A Stoic approached suffering with equanimity and acceptance. The courage shown in the face of uncertainty, pain and death were the only things that truly mattered.
The Jedi also had courage. The rigours of Jedi training, the trial of courage required it in abundance. Without courage a Jedi could not hope to survive the many ordeals that would confront her in a lifetime.
“Courage begins by trusting oneself.” – Moral
I lacked the courage to accept my alcoholism and the damage it had bought to my life and the life of others. Alcoholism made a coward out of me. It removed any willingness and heart to face mistakes and own up to them. I lacked the honesty and courage to accept accountability for my actions. It forced me to avoid or run from my responsibilities. Through the three steps I came to admit my problems, accept responsibility and believe that a Higher Power could restore my sanity and give me all the courage and strength I needed to recover.
Life is suffering. Every day is to face a degree of uncertainty in life. With experience we come to understand that plans and expectations rarely match outcomes. What we hope will transpire is often dashed by reality. We have all heard of “Murphy’s Law”. Expect the unexpected and always at the worst possible time. Life is fraught with unknowns, adversity, trials and challenges not to mention disappointments, failures and tragedies.
It is in the act of getting out of bed and facing the world that we demonstrate a measure of courage. With every heart break and loss that we endure, each disappointment that we accept and all the challenges that we face and overcome we show courage.
“He certainly has courage.” – Princess Leia
Courage cannot exist without fear. It is perfectly normal to feel fear. Some people are terrified of public speaking. Others find the challenge of leaving the house with trepidation. Many of us will feel fear for reasons we cannot articulate or do not understand. For example, the world is in a state of turmoil. The media bombards us with a constant stream of bad news and despair. Humanity seems to be in a state of chronic fear. The fear is not a tangible thing. It does not exist outside of our mind.
Fear is a normal human response; it is necessary to our survival. Courage is not the absence of fear but being able to act despite those fears. Courage is the person terrified of public speaking who stands in front of a crowd and delivers their speech. It is the person who walks out of their home to face a hostile world. Courage is choosing to face yours fears despite every fibre in your being that screams at you to turn back. Courage is the very essence of being human because without it, humanity could not have survived in a world that was constantly trying to kill it. Fear and courage are brothers.
Ironically Fear has much to do with my recovery as does Faith. Courage does not mean the absence of Fear but the willingness to place faith in our ability to rise above it. I fear a return to alcoholism and suffering but know that faith and courage provides the safe harbour from the storm that rages around me.
“This battle is inevitable. You can stand by your beliefs but let us stand by ours.” – Anakin Skywalker
Star Wars is a saga of trials, tragedy, loss, hope, struggle, and redemption. The virtue that pervades the story is courage. Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are idolised as morally virtuous characters because they repeatedly showed courage in the face of fear and evil . Han Solo despite his faults and shortcomings showed amazing courage and was willing to sacrifice his own safety for the ones he cared for. Each of these characters had their own fears and doubts but they overcame them and did what was needed despite every reason to seek safety and refuge.
“What good is a reward if you ain’t around to use it? Besides, attacking that battle station is not my idea of courage. It’s more like, suicide.” – Han Solo
The “Heroes Journey” is an act of courage. Courage is what differentiates the mere traveller to the hero on the journey of life. One simply follows the path and arriving at challenges and obstacles chooses to turn back, stay put or go around because of fear. The traveller is not necessarily a coward, he simply lacks courage and will stick to what is familiar, safe, and expedient. The Hero on the other hand overcomes his fear by confronting the challenge head on at the expense of what is safe, secure, and expedient. Through that act the Hero is elevated from one level to another.
“The Force may not have a Light or Dark Side, but we do… and we must choose.” – Luke Skywalker
To show courage:
Choose to act, despite the fear. Answer the call to adventure whatever it might be.
Follow your heart despite the risks and the naysayers who tell you to abandon your dreams.
Persevere in the face of adversity, keeping your eye on the prize. Keep going and never give up.
Stand up for what is right to you. Speak up!
Face the unknown. Embrace the suck. Eschew comfort and familiarity. Welcome adversity as an opportunity.
Face suffering with acceptance and equanimity. Say “This too shall pass”. Mean it whatever your concept of Faith.
Through the catharsis of suffering the Hero has gained where the traveler has not. By falling, failing, and then persevering through one challenge after another the Hero lives the virtue of courage. It is through these efforts that the Hero achieves her goals and returns home transformed.
Over the next seven days explore your fears and how you can use courage to overcome them. Remember that reality is divided into the things that we can control versus those that we have partial or no control over. In life you have very little control over the things that are external to you. You do control how you perceive those things which harm you. This is an invitation for you to ask your fears to come out and play.
You know why you are here and why you are here. Your mountain is there in front of you waiting to be conquered. Only fear holds you back. The challenge is on you. Only you can muster the courage to go out and get what you want. Have courage and send your fears packing.
“They’ll panic? I’m about to panic!” – Ahsoka Tano
“Don’t Panic” – Douglas Adams “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.
In a ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” Arthur Dent is mostly oblivious to the rest of the world and its troubles. One day he wakes up to find his house is about to be demolished to make way for a highway bypass. The local council had posted the plans and somehow Dent had failed to take notice. As this was unfolding a Vogon star ship had entered Earth’s orbit and declared to the world that the planet would be destroyed to make way for an intergalactic hyperspace bypass. Pandemonium ensues and everyone panics.
With the help of his enigmatic friend, Ford Prefect, Arthur Dent manages to get off Earth before it blows up. Still wearing his night gown and pajamas from the morning Arthur Dent reluctantly sets off an intergalactic adventure that takes him across and to the end of the Universe and the beginning. The adventure begins with the default clause of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; “Don’t Panic!”.
“Don’t Panic. It’s the first helpful or intelligible thing anybody’s said to me all day.” – Douglas Adams “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.
The Second Arrow
Alcoholics are catastrophic thinkers. We tend to imagine the worst possible outcome in all scenarios. An argument is the end of a relationship, a reprimand at work is as good as being fired and a letter from the government or IRS is a herald of financial disaster. We are the worst for dreaming up the worst case scenarios.
The Buddha alluded to catastrophic thinking when he spoke of the “second arrow”. The first arrow was what actually happened to us, the true cause of the suffering. The second arrow was the event magnified within our own minds. The suffering is worsened by our own emotional and irrational reaction to it. The first arrow is out of our control, the second arrow is within it.
“Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?” – Douglas Adams “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.
Worst Case Scenarios
When I was a child I would shake in my shoes when called to the principal’s office. I was terrified of imagined and realized punishments my Father would inflict before they happened. No matter what the reason, I still feel unease when summoned by my boss at work for a private chat in his office.
In school at the height of the cold war I was named the “Doomsday Prophet” for my dire predictions that a nuclear holocaust was about to happen. It never did.
Never one to relax I was constantly on edge in the Army believing that each new day would herald more misery, corporal punishment and probably some terrible end. I listened to rumors and digested the news with alarm and consternation. My body was a ball of nervous anxiety. Fortunately my training conditioned my reflexes. To feel fear is normal but to react with panic in combat is unforgivable. .
“He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” – Douglas Adams “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.
I became drawn to calamity and chaos like a moth to fire. I was addicted to anxiety and panic. Events in the world seemed to mirror what was going on inside me. With a sense I could make a difference I set off on a global bar crawl to set things right. I traveled from the famine of East Africa to air raid sirens and religious hatred in the Middle East, the fraternal war and ethnic bloodletting in Bosnia to the tribal and racial violence in South Africa.
I washed up amidst the “colorful” poverty of the Favelas and the burning season in the Amazon in Brazil. The memories play back like the frames of a movie reel. Within that collage of noise and color I remember the haze of alcohol and an undertow of fear and self loathing.
The Burning Issues
Something I saw in Brazil affected me. The Amazon touched my soul. The morning mist shimmering in the early light as it hung low on a still river. I remember the call of macaws as they passed majestically over-head. The dim world of the forest was silent but for the call of birds and spider monkeys complaining in the canopy high above. The forest was vast and it had the power to utterly possess me. It had the primordial and divine peace that I yearned in my own life.
The smell of smoke and the haze hung over the forest as fires burned far away. The forest was being pushed back by ranchers and gold miners who were locked in a struggle with rubber tappers and Indians. I was told in 1994 the forest would be gone in twenty years. This alarmed me.
The forest burned. The world was being destroyed and I felt growing anger and alarm. The more I realized I was powerless to make a difference the greater my resentment grew and fed my anxiety.
“If there’s anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” – Douglas Adams “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.
Did you ever hear the tragedy of Skywalker?
Irrational fear aroused within Anakin a sense of panic at a destiny he could not control. Fears were magnified in his mind and became catastrophes he could not control. The need to change and control that destiny drove him to abandon reason and allow his shadow self to dominate him.
Anakin allowed irrational fear and catastrophic thinking to bypass a life time of Jedi training. Objectivity, reason, rational decision making and sound judgement were replaced by the darker side of emotion. Emotion rather than reason owned Anakin. This ultimately led Anakin to the dark side.
“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.” – Douglas Adams “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.
F*k Everything and Run
Sobriety has taught me that any decision based on fear and panic may help in the short term but long term the consequence often negate those positives. In the past I would panic and make rash decisions and do something I would later regret. Often I would say “F*k it” and run away from my responsibilities. I would get drunk.
In hindsight I would realize that these actions incited by fear, anger and ultimately catastrophic thinking had done nothing for me and usually it only made matters worse. Why did I put myself through that? Everything turned out fine.
After witnessing the burning season in Brazil I entered University and studied environmental science. Two decades later I work in conservation and observe with alarm how fear and panic has hijacked rational and reasoned discourse. Short sighted decisions are made with little regard to far reaching consequences. I’m pleased to see that the Amazon is still there. There are monumental problems in the world but I have faith and believe in hope.
“For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.” – Douglas Adams “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.
Know Faith No Fear
My life was one of reactivity, catastrophic thinking and panic. It’s strange that until you recognize it in others you don’t recognize it in your self. It took me to get sober and work on myself to realize how irrational many of my fears were and how catastrophic thinking ran my life.
Every time I feel the second arrow hit I pull it out immediately. Let the first arrow hurt for a bit but don’t make it worse by imagining something that is not real. Remember the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; “Don’t Panic”. In other words have faith, not fear.
“So this is it, we’re going to die” – Douglas Adams “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.
The House is on Fire
I don’t want you to panic. The house is not burning down. The world is not coming to an end. There is no reason to abandon reason. If things are not right, work to fix it and put it right. Do what is within your power to do and let go of the rest.
Avoid jumping to conclusions, silence the doomsayer within and never listen to doomsday prophets. Use your own judgement and think hard before deciding.
Study and be prepared to change your view when evidence suggests otherwise. Avoid falling for group-think and hysteria.
Recognize and avoid the mob fueled by dogma and anger. You were given the faculties to make up your own mind and think for yourself. In other words, be a little like Arthur Dent.
Panic and catastrophic thinking is not for us. Jedi are free thinkers we respect and acknowledge our emotions but we do not react to them mindlessly. We use our brains to decide what is true while remaining tolerant of the views of others. Gathering the facts as they are, we choose how best to act in a way that is applicable, beneficial, practical and positive.
Whatever you do Don’t Panic.
“And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.” – Douglas Adams “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.
“A child stolen is a lost hope.” – Moral “Spheres of Influence” The Clone Wars
“Truly wonderful the mind of a child is” – Yoda.
Let’s not kid ourselves; Star Wars is essentially for kids. I’m not ashamed to say that I like Star Wars and don’t mind being called a “big kid” because of it. We go to the movies to escape reality for a while and to enjoy ourselves. Even to remember what it was like to be a child again.
As a ten year old I saw Star wars for the first time when it hit theatres in 1977. The experience was indescribable. It blew away all expectations. My life was changed from that evening 42 years ago.
Ever since that I day I feel that same sense of wonder every time I sit down to watch the original trilogy. The nostalgia dented only by the re-mastering and editing that replaced the original cinematic version. The movies belonged to my generation. Star Wars was made for us. It belonged to us.
“We often tend to ignore how much of a child is still in all of us.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, “On Death and Dying”
Children still enjoy Star Wars of course. The prequels entertained the millennial generation and the current trilogy has been made for the current generation of kids. Let no one tell you otherwise, Star Wars is meant for the kids first and us critical and adoring adults second.
The way we view Star Wars can even differ between generations. In “How I met your Mother”, Barney comes to the conclusion that a girl he is seeing is much older than he is because she hates the Ewoks. Barney reasons that because she was a kid when Star Wars first came out and a teenager when “Return of the Jedi” screened in 1983 the Ewoks to her were annoying at best. The Ewoks were cute and adorable and made for the kids. If Barney’s girl fiend hated Ewoks, he reasoned, she would have to be up to ten years his senior. This also annoyed Barney, he could not be with someone who hated Ewoks.
The Ewoks were annoying, I still find them mildly annoying but Star Wars is a modern fairy tale and while fairy tales have a moral they are also written for children or at least the inner child in all of us. Time to get over the Ewoks.
Children are a blessing. My life changed when I had kids. All of the sudden there was more than just my self to live for. I was responsible for another human being that was powerless in every way and utterly reliant on me. This is a revelation that only a parent can describe. In one sense it is amazing beyond words and in another it is utterly terrifying. Your mortality is revealed as is your human vulnerabilities. Every selfish act becomes shockingly apparent. There is no hiding from the truth. You have the most important job on the planet to fulfil.
For me it was not enough. I loved my kids of course and tried my best however alcohol was more important to me. There were nights when I drank secretly in the study while my wife and kids slept completely oblivious to the fact that I was drunk. If they needed me in the middle of the night I would probably have been completely incapable of caring for them.
Thank God for their mother who truly looked after their every need and never drunk. I can only imagine what would have happened if they had been left alone in my care. Who was the bigger child in all of that I wonder. It is my biggest shame as an alcoholic. A Father is meant to protect his kids and put them first always. This is not sacrifice but a sacred duty.
“We did not come into this world loathing ourselves or wishing to numb or feelings. As small children, we operated from a place of wonder, curiosity, spontaneity and creativity.” – Christopher Dines, “Drug Addiction Recovery: The Mindful Way”
I recall being a child. I remember Star Wars and a lot of other cool things that happened. There are also plenty of memories of a drunken Father, my mother’s bitter tears and despair at a husband who put money for food in to his drinking and stayed out for days and nights. One day I saw my mother taken in an ambulance and that’s the last time I saw her before I saw her lowered in to the ground in a coffin.
The years that followed were not childlike in any normal sense of the word. There were orphanages, homes and hostels, abuse from care givers and intermittently my drunken Father would appear. No wonder I hated the Ewoks when I went to see “Return of the Jedi” at 16. They were lame and stupid and reminded me of everything I wanted to forget, my childhood. The promise of Star Wars had failed me. The inner child within me was smothered out, all but dead.
Alcoholism was the natural progression from that point.
“Oh Annie, you’ll always be that little boy I knew on Tatooine” – Padme.
Its no wonder then that when I finally became sober I had to rekindle my long lost inner child. Not just the “big kid” that comes out to rough house with the kids and make a convincing go at playing dress ups at parties without feeling completely foolish. Also not the petulant and obstinate child I became when I was drinking. Playing the drunken idiot was also easy. The inner child is something different. It is something wonderful.
“The inner child represents the strongest, the most ineluctable urge in every being, namely the urge to realize itself.” – Carl Jung
The Divine Child
If you could personify the divine I have no doubt it would appear as a wide eyed and amazed child, playful, curious and innocent. This inner child would be eager to learn and discover and create. She would have boundless energy, enthusiasm, optimism, empathy and compassion. Most of all, the child would have an imagination that knows no limits.
Now think Star Wars. Is Star Wars not for the inner child that resides within all of us? I would say that Lucas created Star Wars from his own inner child for the child in everyone.
Carl Jung created the “divine child archetype”. Star Wars fans may recognise the young Anakin as the embodiment of the archetype in “The Phantom Menace”. Anakin was innocent and vulnerable but at the same time he was far beyond his years in so many ways. He could repair racing pods and knew his way around a ship. The boy had an amazing talent for racing pods and had the instincts of a survivor.
There was something compelling about Anakin which drew Qui-Gon Jinn to him and endeared him to Obi-wan Kenobi. Anakin was a powerful force sensitive, incredibly intelligent while at the same time naive and easy to mould. At first sight he was an ideal candidate for Jedi training but something troubling loomed within him. Yet to all he appeared to be the “chosen one” as foretold in prophecy.
“You open the gates of the soul to let the dark flood of chaos flow into your order and meaning. If you marry the ordered to the chaos you produce the divine child, the supreme meaning beyond meaning and meaninglessness.” – Carl Jung
Krishna, Jesus, Horus, Dažbog and Zoroaster were all divine children who were born under auspice circumstance to bring great change to the world. King Herod did all he could to stop the prophecy of the coming messiah by having all new born male babies slaughtered. Mary and Joseph forewarned fled to Egypt to keep Jesus safe. Demons plotted to kill the baby Zoroaster but failed.
Anakin was the Jungian “divine child” archetype of Star Wars. Darth Sidous sought out the “chosen one”, Anakin, to either kill him or preferably bring him to the Dark Side. The new born twins Luke and Leia were secreted away in to hiding after Anakin’s fall. The truth kept from them until the prophecy could be fulfilled. The children were the hope for the future of the galaxy.
Yoda in essence was also a symbol of the divine inner child manifest. Despite his 900 years of age he recognised the divinity in children and allowed his inner child to shine through before and after his transcendence to the Force. In exile that inner child was still alive in Yoda with all its wonder, wisdom, humour and optimism.
“In every adult there lurks a child and eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed, and calls for unceasing care, attention and education. That is part of the human personality which wants to develop and become whole.” – Carl Jung
Yet the inner child is vulnerable. In “Revenge of the Sith”, Darth Sidious completed the conversion of Anakin through the slaughter of innocents at the Jedi Temple. The massacre of Younglings by Anakin is symbolic of the final destruction of the inner divine child. It is the loss of final hope and the future.
For children are the future. A society that forsakes its children has no future. A person who denies his inner child also betrays his soul.
“I believe that there is a sacred child-like spirit in all of us (often referred to as our younger self or sacred inner child), one we can access and heal in recovery. We can gradually learn to integrate our youthful spirit into our everyday life. There is sweet sacredness when a person truly dedicates himself or herself to reclaiming his or her forgotten and abandoned inner child.” – Christopher Dines, “Drug Addiction Recovery: The Mindful Way”.
So it is with Alcoholism. The disease eventually all but snuffs out the inner child within us. That is a tragedy. In its place the shadow inner child emerges to fuel our addiction. The shadow child is the dark, spoilt, belligerent and selfish brat that clawed, kicked, screamed and berated us in active abuse.
Recovery heals the shadow child and restores the inner divine child. We learn that the divine child is a manifestation of the Higher Power within us. It has been all but snuffed out but a tiny glow remains in a sea of blackness. Soon that glow becomes a flame. For me it is the Force that burns within. With time it has grown brighter kindled by walking the 12 Steps.
I have had to grow up, perhaps for the first time in my life. The inner child has guided me along the journey and still does. To be Jedi is to allow the inner child to step forward and be heard.
“When you learn how to re-parent yourself, you will stop attempting to complete the past by setting up others to be your parents.” – John Bradshaw, “Homecoming: Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child”.
The Inner Child
The inner child is that small still voice. You will know it when:
A creative idea takes root in your mind and you feel excited about it.
You look up at the stars at night, witness a glorious sunset or wander through nature and feel awe, joy and a connectedness with creation.
That “kid like” excitement and abandon you get visiting a theme park and getting on rides.
The mystery and wonder that causes the heart to race and time to stand still when you get that first kiss.
The thirst for life and yearning to explore.
The feeling you get when the light in the theatre dims and everyone hushes as the 20th century Fox anthem plays and then the words “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away” appears and then fades to the loud crescendo of the opening note of the Star Wars musical score and title.
Listen also to the Child when you are feeling down, it is trying to tell you something when you feel;
Regret at abandoning an idea you was excited about.
Frustration at being denied your creativity or held back.
Depression that comes with not being able to fully realize your self.
Grief over loss.
These are natural responses. It’s OK to be not OK. Let the inner child in you express itself.
Be a Kid
If you approach life with the eyes of a child you do so with the divine guiding you. The world suddenly reveals that there is still wonder and beauty in it. Despite the odds there is still hope for the future. People become inherently good despite their shortcomings. Life will not be all “Puppies and Kittens” but it does get easier. Your mind will seek to create rather than destroy, to flow with, rather than resist and to accept rather than reject what life offers. Let life surprise you for certainly it will.
Learn from the wisdom of children and take something from their insights like Yoda did. No matter what happens allow your inner child to completely take over the next time you watch Star Wars. Learn to be a kid again. Ewoks or no Ewoks, I guarantee you will enjoy it.
Star Wars (Original release crawl 1977) Lucasfilm Ltd.
John Bradshaw; Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child. New York, NY: Bantam Books. 1990. ISBN 978-0-553-35389-1.
Imagine being hopelessly lost in the desert. Walking for miles as the sun beats down.
The distant line of mountains seems to be now closer after days of walking in the blistering heat and nights spent huddled against the cold.
Eventually whatever water you had is gone. Thirst torments you and hunger gnaws at your belly.
You mutter to yourself mindless thoughts. Apparitions of strange figures come in waves of hallucinations at night.
You dream of water and hear voices in the wind. The sun rises and you greet it knowing you won’t see the end of the day.
Tears come to your eyes but they are dry, an attempt to cry is nothing more than a tortured croak.
You stagger and fall and blackness finds you. With eyes open you see the cosmos spiraling before you, all the planets and stars arc above.
You feel a presence, it bring you peace in the hour of death. It speaks to you and urges you on. You stumble as if in a dream.
The presence never leaves you it tells you everything will be alright and to keep going. You obey.
Voices come out of the dark, water, hands grip your shoulder and you see a face. Salvation has come.
“Who is the third who walks always beside you? When I count, there are only you and I together. But when I look ahead up the white road, there is always another one walking beside you” – T.S Elliot ” The Wasteland”.
There are countless stories that tell of the presence of an “other” when life was in peril. Shackleton recounts that such a presence was felt by his group as they wandered across the Antarctic wilderness held in the place between this life and the next.
“I have no doubt that Providence guided us…it seemed to me there were four and not three.” – Sir Ernest Shackleton
Yossi Ghinsberg an Israeli backpacker who nearly died while lost in the Amazon jungle also recounted being led by a young girl who appeared to him just as he gave up hope. The experience left an indelible spiritual mark on him.
Frank Smyth the British climber attempted Mount Everest in 1933 failed and narrowly survived the descent. Later he recounted the welcome presence of another person who followed him during his ordeal. To him the guiding presence was real and it eliminated all loneliness and fear in him.
Soldiers in war, shipwreck survivors and castaways, people lost in the wilderness, survivors of natural disasters and terror attacks all recount experiencing the presence of a benevolent presence that helped them survive beyond their physical and mental limits. The presence gave them comfort and courage against the odds and this helped saved their lives. Psychologists call this phenomenon the “Third Man factor”.
“An angel. I’ve heard the deep space pilots talk about them. They’re the most beautiful creatures in the universe” – Young Anakin to Queen Amidala “The Phantom Menace”
Intense physical and mental duress can have a profound effect on the brain. No one knows for certain whether the “third person” is a hallucinogenic effect caused by the release of a burst of dopamine and possibly Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The effect of DMT is very similar to those reported by people who claim to have had a near death experience. In a recent study people who had had NDE’s reported experiences of spiritual transcendence similar to subjects who took DMT psychedelics like Ayuhuasca.
Is the “Third Person” effect simply a coping mechanism, a mental trick, a survival reflex triggered by a brain that knows it is dying? Some believe the “Third Person” a guardian angel that intervenes in the time of greatest physical, mental and spiritual anguish. Does it matter whether the “Third Person” comes from deep within our psyche or is a manifestation of something divine if it leads to salvation?
The human psyche has a persona and an ego at the conscious level. Deeper in our subconscious resides our anima and animus. The shadow, the darker side of our nature also resides there. Why not also a guardian angel? The “Third man factor” is a protector and guide that resides deep within us all?
“Death is just the beginning.” – “Destiny” The Clone Wars
The appearance of a spiritual guiding force in the time of great need is often used in fiction. In Gravity (2013) Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) visits Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) after he has floated away in space to his death. Kowalski speaks to Stone and urges her not to give up and helps her survive. The guiding spirits in “A Christmas Carol” transform Scrooge as they reveal his faults and show him a way to his own salvation.
Guardian Angels are nothing new. They appear to the prophets in the Old Testament. Jesus was said to have been visited by angels during his wandering in the wilderness and again as he suffered during the crucifixion. Guiding spirits occur in every culture; Zoroastrian, Chinese, Slavic, Aboriginal lore describes them as benevolent spirits who look over their human charges and keep them safe.
In Star Wars the Force Spirit is the ephemeral and benevolent presence that comforts and guides those it visits. In “Ghosts of Mortis” Anakin is visited by the “Force Ghost” of Qui-Gon Jinn who tells him he can bring balance to the force. Obi-wan Kenobi and Yoda are also visited by Qui-Gon Jinn. In “A New Hope” Luke is guided by the disembodied voice of Obi-wan Kenobi giving him the courage and presence of mind to complete his mission. At the end of “Return of the Jedi” Luke and Leia are visited by the Force Spirits of Yoda, Anakin and Obi-wan Kenobi. Luke himself becomes a powerful Force Spirit. In “The Last Jedi” his Force Spirit projected to Crait where he comforted Leia and confronted Kylo Ren.
“The ultimate goal of the Sith, yet they can never achieve it; it comes only through the release of self, not the exaltation of self. It comes through compassion, not greed. Love is the answer to the darkness.“
―Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn
I can’t say I have ever had a near death experience like Ernest Shakleton in Antarctica or Frank Smyth on Everest. I have been exhausted enough to hallucinate while in the army. I was on operations patrolling for days on end with little sleep. My thoughts were disordered and I knew that the visions and voices in my mind weren’t real. The “Third man factor” experience is described as lucid and ordered while hallucinations are dreamlike imaginings.
Some Alcoholics who have had spiritual experiences which directly resulted in sustained recovery report the presence of a guiding presence. Some describe this as a blinding light of love and compassion while others describe the visit of a man or a woman or a deceased love one. These spiritual experiences tend to happen at a moment of great spiritual, mental and physical torment.
I have had the “Rock Bottom” experience and while I did not see a presence I definitely felt it. The sensation was real and tangible in every way. I knew immediately that I had nothing to fear and that everything would be fine. The presence imbued a love and compassion that was transcendent and impossible to articulate. I felt at home. From that point I never have drunk again.
“Fear is a disease; hope is its only cure.” – “Blue Shadow Virus” The Clone Wars
I read somewhere once that an atheist will deny the existence of God until the day he finds himself with nothing and is utterly alone, without hope and facing death. At the end of hope the atheist finds hope, not in changed fortune but in the presence of a spiritual force that guides him to salvation.
Very few people ever call on a “power greater than themselves” until the time they need it. Even an atheist faced with his own physical demise will ponder at the wonder of the cosmos and the symphony of creation. A part of them will wonder at the mystery and purpose of life. While denying someone else’s concept of God they might come to a deeper understanding of a divine truth.
The Force can be a source of strength when I need it. The Force can be a source of calm and serenity in times of turbulence. Understanding and patience can be the little inner voice that comes from the Force when confronted with difficult people and situations. It is the guiding and comforting presence when facing calamity. The Force can be the hand that guides you out of harms way, a candle in the dark that leads the way to the light.
Whatever your concept of God or a Higher Power might be the important thing is to realize that no one is ever truly alone. When you need the will to carry on past your imaginable limits, there is a power you can fall back on within you. All you need to do is accept the hand that’s offered.
Geiger, John (2009). The Third Man Factor. Toronto: Viking Canada.