BY LES McCARTHY
December 23, 2015
I have to admit, upfront, I’m not a “Star Wars” worshipper. I have seen three of the films (sometime between junior prom and my first child) but now that it’s Star Wars DXVII (or whatever), it’s just another movie at The Clyde for me to see—or not.
However…way back in 1977, I somehow glommed onto a phrase from the movie and it has been woven, ever since, into my speech as commonly as other movie lines I’ve picked up along the way. But, as oddly corny as it may sound, it’s only been recently that I realized it’s a powerful line to share with someone—even if that someone is yourself.
May the force be with you.
I had dinner with Yoda the other night. Not actually Yoda—the cute, wrinkly, old, green sage with pointy ears—nor a costumed rendition of the character, but my neighbor, who is now also, fortunately for me, a very good friend. I’m pretty sure she didn’t know (until now) how enlightening a conversation it was for me.
Let’s just say, on many levels, I had a tough week.
And, if public flogging is possible to do to oneself, I would have done it. I goofed. And I goofed, big time. I did something I had not yet done (and many have done likewise, and many more will do the same)—I wrote an email insulting someone’s talent and accidently sent it to that person.
Embarrassing for me, upsetting to the unintended. I immediately knew what I had done and apologized for my error, insensitivity and opinion but it’s one of those things that you know are now “out there” and—as much as you want it to be possible—you just can’t take it back.
The unintended recipient of my gaffe was most gracious. (Let me say again—MOST gracious.) However, I was less so to myself. You can apologize, but whatever is said or done (“it”) is still there—hanging over your head, shaming you in the mirror, tsking and shaking its ugly head. If shame and guilt had fingers they would be pointing at me.
And then I had dinner with Yoda.
In her calm and gentle manner she released the error of my fingers into the universe. She heard that I felt badly about it. Continued dwelling on it wouldn’t make it go away or erase its occurrence. I had apologized and then some. And what more could I do? Public flogging wasn’t necessary; I was doing it—emotionally and privately—to myself. And she sat back and looked at me and said, “You do know you’re only human. Right?”
And, with those words, I realized how often I (figuratively) beat myself up. Not just over big or embarrassingly awful errors in judgement or life, but over little things, too. Over pretty much everything.
And I’m not belittling what happened (as I still feel so badly); I am just stating that it made me think about how often that negative voice pops into my head against myself. Instead of giving myself a pep talk about how I can get moving and lose the extra pounds that have creeped onto my body over the years, I find myself berating my image in the bathroom mirror—chastising myself for having eaten (anything—healthy or not) in the last 10 years. Or that my hair looks stupid or that what I’m wearing is tasteless. Or that my skills at this or that aren’t good enough. Or I only checked 14 things off my to-do list in my 19-hour exhaustive day and not 15 things! And the list goes on—and on. You know what I mean—been there, done that.
Since that conversation, I’ve been muddling this over more and more and realizing that I need to be nicer to myself. I am only human. I’m not perfect. And I hope that I continue to make mistakes because I am learning so much from them.
May the force be with you.
So, no matter what your force is (energy, faith, spirituality, commitment, confidence, love, nature) it should be positive and expressive, enlightening and luminating—like your own personal lightsaber. And if it’s not, revamp/revise/rework it until it is.
So, as I go forward into the remaining days of this year, I will try harder to do so with joy and positivity, reflection, grace and forgiveness—not only to others but to myself. If I don’t get my 1,000 things done on my list today, that’s okay. If my diet wanders to the cookie plate, I won’t scold myself. If I cause upset to another person, I will apologize.
I’ll make it a habit to remember to pat myself on the back and compliment myself on a good job, well done or a good attempt or, if nothing else, a lesson learned. Falling forward—learning from my mistakes and being gracious enough to know that I am not perfect and there are only so many hours in the day and that there is tomorrow to continue my growth. And that I am, after all, only human.
And as I eagerly anticipate the turning of the filled-in calendar pages of this year to the blank ones of the New Year, I will go forward with softer, nicer words in my mind and in my heart. I want to be empowered with goodness and enlightenment. I want that force to shine within me. I want to be my own lightsaber.
Be kind. Be gracious. Forgive. Pass along the goodness and sage advice of Yoda. And, remember to give yourself a break. After all, you’re only human.
Happy Holidays and always, always…may the force be with you.
Les McCarthy is an author, entrepreneur and IPPY bronze medalist for her yearly “Healthy Living ~ Healthy Life: 365 Days of Nutrition & Health for the Family” calendars. She’s been 18 months on the island and in the NW and loves every gorgeous bit of it (especially the rain and fog). She joyfully tends to her geriatric fur factory and likes the slugs and snails more now that they are gone!
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