It’s a classic scene: Luke Skywalker is learning to use his lightsaber under the wise tutelage of Obi Wan Kenobi. “A Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him,” Obi Wan says when Luke’s lightsaber once again misses the targeted training remote. “This time, let go your conscious self and act on instinct.” Because, of course, Luke will only achieve his goal and make contact with the training remote once his eyes are covered and he can no longer rely on visual cues. That’s when he has no choice but to allow himself to be guided by the powerful Force that connects him to All.
From my seat on the couch, I’m pretty sure I’d have this Force stuff down in no time flat. Just trust it, Luke. Dive in. Be part of the greater good.
Another iconic scene: in Beauty and the Beast, a violent mob armed with flaming torches and weapons converges on the beast’s castle, ready to kill. The mob knows nothing about the beast’s story; the frenzied hatred arises from fear of anyone different from what the townspeople have always known. This fear has become the basis for their actions, and they can no longer feel or hear anything beyond it.
Me from the couch? Yeah, I’ve got this one, too. I’d know that this poor, scared beast-creature is so much more than his appearance implies. He deserves compassion, not scorn. I’d be a good villager, willing to offer protection even in the face of something I don’t understand.
Truth? In real life, it turns out I’m not much better at this stuff than fictional characters are. While I do believe in a version of the Force — that powerful, intuitive energy that flows through each of us — it appears I can’t stop questioning its guidance. I mean, what if I misread my instincts, or simply don’t get the message? What if I plunge into something wholeheartedly and only make everything worse? And that compassion-for-the-unknown thing? Sure. The only problem is that certain people, opinions, and thought patterns make me want a flaming torch of my own with a pitchfork thrown in for good measure.
No matter how good my intentions are, I mess up. Frequently.
Which brings me to another fictional character …
Ebenezer Scrooge is awful. Disdain toward humankind? Check. Stinginess with both means and spirit? Check. Cold? Covetous? Hard? Yeah, he’s all that, too.
And yet, by the end of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is a new man. Thanks to a night punctuated by ghostly visits, he not only sees the world through different eyes, he gets the chance to go back and make positive changes based on what that newfound vision has revealed to him.
I’m a big fan of second chances. And third chances. And the general idea that no matter how badly I miss the mark one day, there’s always the opportunity to try to do better the next.
So, I apologize to anyone who gets caught in the midst of one of my epic fails. I’ll keep working on it.
Like in Groundhog Day.