Why Yoda Was Wrong About Trying and Doing

a yoda doll standing on a desk with a keyboard in the background. The Yoda doll is standing in front of a big red button that says easy, with his hand raised as though he is about to hit it
Image by Derek Jensen / CC BY

Yoda famously said to Luke Skywalker during Jedi training, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

But as much as I love the little green guy, all I seem to do is try.

So I find myself asking, “Am I nowhere? Am I nothing?”

“Trying” Can Mean a Few Different Things. One Has Very Little in Common with Doing, But the Other…

I think there are a couple of ways to talk about trying.

One is as a justification, an excuse. You can tell others (and yourself if you’re self-deceiving) that you tried when you really didn’t exert much of an effort. A shrug and, “Well, I tried.” (Sometimes in situations where actually you didn’t try at all. And you may have not even done anything and are conjuring up an illusory attempt as a placeholder for real effort.)

And there is another kind of trying — where you acknowledge you’re in control of the effort and not necessarily the outcome. You throw your whole self in hokey pokey style, never throw your whole self out, and yet… you don’t succeed.

The first kind of try has very little in common with “doing.” You didn’t really do anything. You just tried to convince others (and maybe yourself) that you did.

The second kind of try, however, is absolutely a form of doing. You did a thing — and maybe it didn’t take you where you wanted to go. But you tried. You absolutely did. You put yourself out there. Exerted effort. Maybe it didn’t result in a productive outcome (at least not in the short term). But damn it, you did something, even if it’s not what you set out to do.

In Fact, “Trying” Is the Only Way I’ve Been Able to DO Anything

I used to find myself paralyzed. Unable to set goals. Because there was practically always some aspect that I could not control. Outcomes were uncertain.

I couldn’t guarantee I’d get what I wanted, so why even try?

The answer is simpler than I thought: Because all doing on some level starts with trying. The second kind of trying, the one that’s actually doing and actually success in its earliest form.

To actually get the outcomes I wanted, I had to give up that need to get there. Had to focus less on succeeding and more on trying.

Actually trying. Not confusing emotion with action.

I had to learn a trying that was actually doing — no matter what Yoda had to say on the matter.

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Related Article: If You Ever Want to Piss Someone Off, Tell Them They’re Not Trying

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Books by Page Turner:

Dealing with Difficult Metamours

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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1 Comment

  1. This is something I struggle with regularly. I regularly don’t want to attempt something unless I can guarantee there will be a beneficial outcome for myself.

    I even apply this to asking my partners for things I want.

    Hopefully something that I can work on improving.

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