The wisdom of Yoda …. yeah, right.

My youngest son graduated from middle school last week. It made me feel old, and odd, to think that from here on out, I will never be the mother of small children. On the back page of their graduation booklet, they included the famous quote from Yoda: “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”

 
Other than the bizarre fact that they are looking to a fictional character for guidance ….. What the hell sort of advice is that to give to anyone, let alone thirteen-year-olds?
 
Just think of the message. No race should ever be run unless it can be completed. No project or experiment should be undertaken without certainty of success. Trying is for losers.
 
Wrong. Trying — and failing — is how we learn things. We gain insight into ourselves, and we learn skills to help us do better next time. At the very least, we learn that perhaps we shouldn’t have tried that in the first place, which, if we stop to figure out why, can be enlightening indeed. More often, we learn what it is to strive, to work towards a goal, and that value lies in the journey, not merely in the destination.
 
Much better is Samuel Beckett’s take on these things: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
 
Best of all is Robert Browning: “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”
 
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