Too old. Too old to begin the training?

I love college students. If I won the Powerball jackpot, I would keep on working at Universities.

One of the things I like about my job is seeing the world through another set of eyes. Each generation has a unique way of looking at life.

My theory is, there is no better way to understand what drives this generation than by going to see “Star Wars-The Force Awakens”.

“Spoiler alert!  yada, yada, yada”.

It has been almost an entire generation (40 years) since the first Star Wars movie debuted.  By looking at the training of Luke in “A New Hope” and Rey in “The Force Awakens” I have noticed some really interesting shifts in culture.

I could write at least 3 more posts about this, but I’ll start with one of the most fundamental questions of life- “Where does truth come from?”

In the original trilogy, truth comes from a specific source, namely a wise old sage. In “A New Hope” this person is Obi Wan Kenobi.

From the beginning we know he is special. Princess Leia, sends a message through R2D2. “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. You are our only hope.” As we munch on our popcorn, we are supposed to think, “This Obi Wan guy must be important. I better listen to what he says.”

Throughout the movie he convinces storm troopers that “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for”. He makes a grand proclamation to Darth Vader, “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can ever imagine.” Even a quote that questions where truth originates is delivered by the sage “Many of the truths we cling to, depend greatly on our point of view”.

There is no way for Luke to become a Jedi without Obi Wan.

Spoiler! Obi Wan dies at the end of “A New Hope” (Sorry but you had almost 40 years to figure that one out). In his place comes a froggish dispeller of wisdom- Yoda! He trains Luke with classic lines like… “Do or do not. There is no try” and “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Obi Wan initiates Luke into his journey as a Jedi and Yoda leads him into maturity.

Unlike Luke, who was trained by the wisdom of older Jedi masters, Rey discovers her powers through experience. Perhaps the most significant moment for Rey in “The Force Awakens” is her discovery of Luke’s light saber. It is meaningful that she wasn’t given instruction about it beforehand. Her “awakening” if you will, came as she touched the light saber. It was all about her experience.

She comes to realize she has the ability to perform the age old “Jedi mind trick” in the same way. No one was there to instruct her. She knew she had the ability because as Kylo Ren tried to read her mind. Remarkably, she ended up reading his!

An old guy doesn’t teach Rey to wield a light saber while some little floating ball is shooting laser beams at her. That would be lame! She uses a light saber the same way she uses her weapon of choice on her home planet. It is clear by the way she defends BB8 that she had a lot of experience with that staff! Her light saber prowess gets kicked up a notch in her final encounter with Kylo Ren when she simply hears the words “The Force” and everything changes.

For Rey, experience is the greatest teacher.

“OK, John. So, why is this a big deal?” you ask. “Isn’t it just semantics?” I would say “No”. People in my generation and older are used to trying to prove that we are right through arguments and outside sources. The world is like one big courtroom where each of us acts as a lawyer in order to prove truth. We do our best to present an airtight case that the other person can’t deny.

However, in an age where people can get facts to prove any side of an argument (simply browse your Facebook newsfeed), people have grown tired of this type of interaction. They have embraced the words of Obi Wan Kenobi, “Many of the truths we cling to, depend greatly on our point of view”.

As I talk with people, there seems to be a couple of questions underneath the surface, “Does this make any difference in your life?” and “Could this make any difference in my life?”

Some of us from older generations may balk at this philosophical change and decry it as a sign of the apocalypse. I don’t see it that way. I think it provides an awesome opportunity to connect instead of argue, to live out what we say we believe instead of simply talk about it and to see amazing things happen in our lives as we walk by faith.

I have a beard like Obi Wan Kenobi. I’m short and bald like Yoda. I’m afraid that’s where the similarities stop. Still, I hope that my life can be marked by sharing Truth with my words AND my actions. Maybe that will lead to an “awakening” in my life and the lives of people around me.

May the Force be with you!

Move it or lose it!

My new watch makes me feel like the six million dollar man. When I wear it, I am pretty sure I am half human and half cyborg. It’s the most advanced form of electronics I have ever put on my wrist.

This cool piece of technology comes with GPS, so I’m like a little laser guided missile when I run. If I decide to bike or swim, my distance is carefully logged. When I go golfing, I can tell exactly how far my wicked slice has taken the ball from the hole. Every step I take is carefully monitored during the day and my sleep patterns are tracked at night.

There’s just one thing that annoys me about this watch. If I’m sitting still for any prolonged amount of time, it buzzes and a word flashes on the screen…”MOVE!” Sometimes this even happens when I am walking around. I assume it is telling me, “Move faster!”

When my watch tells me to get going, I feel anxiety. “Why am I not moving?”, “Is my timepiece mad at me?”, “Is what I’m doing important enough to ignore my watch?” All these questions and more flash through my mind. Periodically, I find myself yelling at my wrist. It’s a good thing our whole family is crazy. This type of action doesn’t seem out of place in our home.

I’ve asked myself many times why a slight vibration on my wrist and a little reminder to move would make me anxious. One reason could be that this watch is reinforcing a message I’ve internalized in my soul. Namely, I am only as valuable as my level of productivity.

In our society, we wear the title “busy” like a badge of honor. “How are you?”, we ask each other. Other than “Good!” or “Fine”, one of the only socially acceptable responses to that question is “Busy”.

Most of the time, I respond this way because I want others to think I’m someone important. “As a matter of fact”, I subtly suggest “You are lucky I’m taking the time to even talk with you right now.” This attitude places unhealthy expectations on myself and is dehumanizing to others.

Without a doubt, there are times when my life is hectic but busyness is not my highest goal. It is noble to be active and invested in the lives of others. At the same time, God gives me these words, “Be still and know that I am God”. It’s interesting the message isn’t, “Work your butt off and know that I am God”.

I can only hear the most important voice in my life when I take the time for intentional stillness.

Maybe someday they will make my dream watch. It will periodically tell me to “Move!” but when I’ve been too active it will remind me to “Rest!” Until then, I’ll have to be proactive on my own.

Ooops! There goes my watch again. I’ve got to get going.