Jodorowsky & Yoda: There Is No Try
I recently read Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “Psychomagic”. Like most of his work, I found it both inspiring and maddening. Jodorowsky has an unbridled enthusiasm for creativity and the ways in which a creative act can improve and transform consciousness. He also has a tendency to leap from one idea to the next with no discernible narrative, consistency, or context. (Try reading The Metabarons and let me know if you disagree.)
A section of the book explores the way in which language can be altered to more accurately convey an intention. Some examples are substituting “mine” with “what I have now”; “give me” with “allow me to take”; and “I want to” with “I am being ineffective”. These shifts in language – some subtle, some blunt – clarify both meaning for the listener and motivation for the speaker.
It reminded me of the scene from “The Empire Strikes Back” in which Luke Skywalker is grousing about one thing or another and tells Yoda that he “will try” to do what has been asked. “No!,” rebukes Yoda, “Try not! Do or do not. There is no try.”
I was discussing the importance of this with my sister, a probation officer. For many of her clients, maintaining a clean substance use record is imperative to the terms of probation. There is no “try” in this situation – a client remains sober or does not. “Trying and failing” is indistinguishable from “not doing”
Once a person is aware of this, it becomes clear that trying is less significant than doing. Trying to arrive on time for a flight, for example, is inconsequential compared to actually arriving on time. Likewise, trying to remember something is, for all practical purposes, no different from not remembering. Either you remember or you do not, regardless of effort or intention.
Note the number of times you say or think “I’ll try” in the coming week. Each time you notice it, pause and mentally substitute “I will try” with “I will do my best”. The people you speak with may not notice the swap, but acknowledging the shift in intention can have an impact on your own experience. Even if you are unsuccessful in the attempt, doing one's best is always attainable.
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