We are all aware of the recent sad news concerning our brother in the Force, Master Steve Ford. On the same day that this news broke, I also found out that someone I knew had died in her sleep at the too-young age of 39. Both of these people were not very well known to me and could be considered more as friends of friends. But I had spoken to both of them on occasion and they had, in some small way, touched my life.
This got me thinking – how many times have I been a part of someone's life without giving it any thought. I know that I have been affected by such casual acquaintance – a rude shop assistant bringing my mood down, a kind word lifting my spirits. As Jedi we strive to be mindful of our actions but is this only the case with the big stuff, or the ones that we are conscious of doing? We may never know the effects that the tiniest of things may have on someone else.
If you have ever read, or seen a performance of, the play “An Inspector Calls” by J.B.Priestley, you will know what I mean. The essential plot concerns a visit by a policeman to a middle-class household after a young woman commits suicide. It transpires that each of the members of the family had contributed to this unfortunate passing in ways that could be considered coincidental (or maybe even a reflection of the synchronicity inherent in the Force). Each instance may have been only a minor occurrence to each person but to the young woman they accumulated in a devastating and ultimately fatal way.
Every decision we make in life sets a multitude of events tumbling into the future. If an elderly man had not veered across the center-line of a particular road 36 years ago, my mother's husband and their friend, my father's wife, would not have have died so tragically. My parents would not have found solace and love in each other's grief-stricken arms. My sister and I would not have been born and I would not be sitting here, typing these words as I chuckle at the antics of my 5-year-old nephew.
Who knows what treasures his life will bring – perhaps he failed to get into his first choice of school because a teacher in this one would one day speak words of encouragement that would propel him into a career in space exploration, swooping among the stars and spinning into infinity. Or perhaps he will meet his future partner over a shared apple in the lunchtime canteen. Call it what you will – the Force, the Tao, the will of God – but this glorious dance of experience, so brain-bogglingly complex and yet so amazingly simple, is a joy to behold and even more of a wonder to experience.
In situations like that of Master Ford, we might be asking ourselves if there was anything we could have done to change things. Perhaps if we had been able to offer a friendly ear in a time of despair, or supported in ways that seemed so insignificant to us but may have meant the world to someone in need. When we suffer with emotions so dark and destructive, every little thing becomes magnified – the tiniest of snubs becomes a major offence and the the warmest of gestures shines rays of light through dark and stormy clouds.
But the truth is that sometimes such things just happen. Sometimes nobody wins and the day is full of tears rather than laughter. Do we have regrets? Maybe, for we are only human and our emotional responses make us what we are. But as Jedi we must not allow these to bring about our own destruction. Make the past a place of reflection and joyous remembrance. The quicksand footpath of regret only ties us to the past and turns our attention away from the purpose of life – that of actually living!
So let us celebrate the lives that have steered us to this point and look forward to the possibilities of the future. Those that are no longer with us are at one with the Force in ways that our physical selves can only dream of. Until such a time that we experience this for ourselves, we have the opportunity to do all we can to enrich our lives and those that we connect with, from the smallest of gestures to the grandest of schemes.
The Jedi Creed provides some guidance in this matter:
Where there is hatred I shall bring love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
So what will you choose to do with your life? What effect will you have on those around you, even those that flit past with only the faintest whisper of a connection. Our failure to act sometimes speaks louder than the things that we do and in honour of this, as a lesson to forgive ourselves and to take such reflections as a lesson, hoping that we make better choices next time, I offer the following lyrics:
"Maybe I didn't treat you
Quite as good as I should have
Maybe I didn't love you
Quite as often as I could have
Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind"