As I grow older, I find almost every wise saying I have ever quoted can cut more than one way. For example, Yoda’s most famous line ever is “Do… or do not. There is no try.” When Luke is whining and letting his imagined limitations hold him back, these are exactly the words he needs to hear. But I don’t think that they are literally true.
There is a value to trying. Making an effort. Showing up when you don’t think you will be able to do everything (or maybe even anything!) you are expecting to do.
Because of poor health, I have many days when I feel drained. Sometimes just the thought of what I need to do wears me out. On really bad days, I will let myself off the hook and take it easy. But when I have any energy at all, I look at what I want to do and then break it down until I find something I can manage to do.
A good example is my writing, though this applies to everything in my life. I am rewriting a novel right now, and while I would love to write for hours every day, I can’t. I’m only good for an hour or two of creative effort. When I set my goals every week, however, I tell myself I only have to write for half an hour at a time.
Half an hour sounds like nothing. Why would I set that goal when I know I can usually write more? Because in the moment, when I get tired just thinking about what needs to be done, I need a low hurdle. If I say I have to write two hours every day, or even an hour, there will be days when I will be Luke and believe it’s impossible. If I think it’s impossible, then there’s no reason to start.
So I stick with my thirty minute goal. When things are really bad, my goal is ten minutes. Knowing I only have to do a little gets me over the hump, enables me to start. And once I am started, I often can do an hour or more. But I don’t know that beforehand. I only find it out by getting to work.
When my day looks like a mountain, I don’t believe I can climb it. But I do believe I can walk a little, start up the path, reach the first overlook. Often, I can even make it over the mountain.
All I have to do is try.
Which way does this quote read for you?