Why you must do it now

Why you must do it now

Reading an essay about the legendary rebel Malcolm Reynolds, a thought occurs to me about war and rebellion and human nature.

“I must write about that,” I says to myself, I says, “after I finish reading.”

But when I finish reading, the insight eludes me like the plot of a memorable dream. I scan through the essay again, hoping the words will re-ignite my imagination, but the thought is gone.

Next time, I guess, I’ll leave pen and paper nearby.

But I always have pen and a pad in my shirt pocket.

Next time, I guess, I’ll stop and pull out the pen and paper.

Stop what you’re doing and memorialize that random thought, else it returns to wherever it came from.

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If … what then?

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If …

Every story, every book, begins with that word. Or at least every idea for a story, a book.

If a little girl lived in a town where black people didn’t get a fair shake, and her father was a principled attorney and a black man was falsely accused …

If an alien civilization placed beacons on our world millennia ago that could only be found and activated after we reached for the stars …

If a boy and a girl met and fell in love but not only their parents but their entire families hated each other …

If books went out of style and became so despised that fire departments no longer extinguished fires but actually burned illegal libraries …

If a little girl on a small Kansas farm dreamed of having adventures far, far away …

If adventures happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …

If … what then?

That is how a story is found. That is how a story is told.

It’s so simple, in the end, this once upon a time.

You can always go back

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There I was, minding my own business, when Truth loomed its beautiful head over everything else.

“It’s OK if you get it wrong. You can always go back and change everything.”

(For the record, it was a line in the book Business for Breakfast by Leah Cutter, and it’s taken out of context but sometimes Truth pops out from the middle of nowhere, doesn’t it?)

This is something to remember when you’re sweating the small stuff and trying to get every detail just right before you let anyone else see your work.

It’s OK if you get it wrong. You can always go back and change everything.

Everyone’s depending on you to get it right? Of course. But it’s OK if you get it wrong on the first try, or the second, or the third.

It’s easy to get paralyzed with indecision – getting it wrong the first time (or even the 60th) is not the end of the world. The key is to keep trying until you get it right. And the more you work at it, the faster you’ll get it right the first time.

Don’t worry about getting it right; just get it. There’s a place in the process where you go back and tweak it.

Some people say “give yourself permission to fail.” The baseball player doesn’t hit a home run the first time, or even most of the time. Some of the greatest home run hitters also led the league in strikeouts. They became great home run hitters by stepping up to the plate and getting the work done.

It’s OK if you get it wrong. You can always go back and change everything.

5 miracle workers on each hand

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These fingers have been with me for almost 64 years. They have written poems and songs and news stories and novels by the thousands.

They have strummed guitars and hammered nails, and stroked hair and plucked ticks out of dogs’ necks.

These fingers have been my conduit to a better place.

One day, of course, they will let me down and fail to accomplish the many tasks I require of them. That makes these fingers no less miraculous, and I am in wonder of them.

Consider what your fingers will do for you today, and be awed.

How Gareth Edwards became a Jedi Master

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It’s that Star Wars time of year. The first movie not directly part of the Skywalker Saga came out last week, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Red and I haven’t seen it yet – maybe tonight for $5 Tuesdays – but I was intrigued by something director Gareth Edwards was quoted as saying during the publicity run-up:

“I grew up believing in The Force as a kid, and I’m still wondering if it might be true. You shouldn’t get to watch ‘A New Hope’ every day and then grow up to make a Star Wars movie. I’m starting to think it might actually be real.”

Well, of course it’s real.

Obi-Wan Kenobi defined what we’re talking about in the aforementioned A New Hope, which is the “new” name of the 1977 movie called Star Wars for those of us who were old enough to remember when it came out:

“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”

Of course it does.

Of course all living things create an energy field that binds the galaxy together, and those who can tap this energy are the greatest of creators. Edwards is right: Not every kid who watched the original movie every day grows up to make a Star Wars movie. But he did.

He devoted his life to gaining the skills necessary to direct a Star Wars movie, and that focused hard work and study led him to a place where he was chosen to do so. He set the course of his life in a way certain to make that not just possible, not just probable, but actually so.

Edwards set out to make a Star Wars movie, and he used The Force to make it happen. He became a Jedi Master.

The greatest scene yet recorded in a Star Wars movie is the one where Luke Skywalker’s ship is buried in a swamp, and Yoda the great teacher instructs Luke to use The Force to lift the vessel out of the muck. (Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this before; It always bears repeating.)

“All right, I’ll give it a try,” Luke says.

“No!!” Yoda barks. “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Sure enough, Luke tries as hard as he can but can only move the buried ship a little bit. Yoda steps forward, holds out his hands, concentrates and pulls the ship up and onto solid ground.

“I don’t believe it,” Luke mutters.

“That is why you fail,” Yoda says.

Yep.

A lot of kids grew up loving Star Wars and wanted to try making one of those films. They didn’t. Or maybe they did try, but they didn’t believe in their heart of hearts that it could be done.

Gareth Edwards decided to do it. And he believed that he could.

That’s why when the credits roll, they say “Directed by Gareth Edwards.”