The Jedi may be flawed, but they teach us one of Star Wars’ greatest lessons. Let me show you how Star Wars teaches us to keep calm and not worry.
I know I’m not the only person in the world with a lot on their plate. I actually have several plates which I struggle to keep in the air. They have names: class, work, homework, friends, family, sleep, health. The usual.
Add to all of this the fact I am nearly always stressed out about something, even if I don’t fully realize it at the moment. I do realize it at some point, though. It keeps me awake at night sometimes. And somehow, knowing I shouldn’t stress out just makes me stress out more because I don’t know how to stop it.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I saw the premiere of Star Wars Rebels season 3. Close to the end of the episode, Kanan is trying to save Ezra but in order for him to do that Ezra has to trust him completely. He has to literally and figuratively let go. Let go of what? The junkyard station dragging him down into a stormy abyss, primarily. But he also has to let go of his fear. He has to trust that Kanan, despite being unable to see him, will indeed catch him and pull him to safety.
Another profound “let go” moment occurred in the third and newest episode of season 3, “The Antilles Extraction.” Halfway through the episode, Ezra and Kanan are waiting on a rebel ship for Sabine to complete her solo mission in an Imperial academy. Ezra is pacing with anxiety over not being able to help her. Kanan tells him to be calm, but Ezra doesn’t think he can. “How can I be calm, hunh? Sabine’s stuck over there and there’s nothing I can do.” Kanan replies, “That’s right. There’s nothing you can do. So nothing you are doing right now is going to help.” He goes on to say, “Part of a Jedi’s wisdom comes from learning to accept when a situation is out of our control.”
“Acceptance” is a key component of Jedi philosophy. Normally, when I think of Jedi acceptance, I think of the scene in Revenge of the Sith when Yoda tells Anakin Skywalker to accept that death is a part of life. He’s right, but his words seem to fall in line with the “don’t get attached to anyone, don’t love anyone” part of the Jedi dogma. But Kanan talks about acceptance in another way. Instead of saying, “You have to accept bad things may happen,” he says you simply have to “accept when a situation is out of your control.”
When you stress out about something, it’s usually because that something is beyond your control. Maybe you’re worried about the results of a test, or that someone you like doesn’t like you, or what people will think of you if you do or don’t act in a certain way. These are all things we can’t control. And sometimes we need a reminder that, since it’s out of our control, we shouldn’t worry about it because worrying will do absolutely no good.
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But there’s more to acceptance than just the relief of our own stress. When put into practice, acceptance can affect the people around us, as well. Ezra learns to respect and trust Sabine more when he finally lets go of his anxieties about her safety. Similarly, by letting go of his control of the situation in the season 3 premiere, he allows Kanan to take charge and rescue him.
There’s another scene in Star Wars I think about when I think about the concept of letting go. In The Empire Strikes Back, after Luke loses his concentration and sends the rocks he was levitating (and Yoda) tumbling to the ground, Yoda tells him, “Control, control, you must learn control!” Yoda isn’t talking about control over the rocks. He’s talking about Luke’s control over himself. Luke has to be able to put a leash on his doubts and fears if he is to become a master of Force manipulation. Similarly, Ezra needs to control his fears and anxiety if he is to trust his friends and achieve peace of mind.
Acceptance of situations we can’t control and control of the self go hand in hand. Though it may seem unfair, the only way we can be at peace is to accept that there are some things we just can’t change. We have to have enough self-control to prevent ourselves from trying, fruitlessly, to change these things. We have to remember what Kanan said: “There’s nothing you can do. So nothing you do right now is going to help.”
It comforts me to hear those words spoken outside of my own thoughts. I know in my mind there’s nothing I can do about certain situations and aspects of my life. But hearing someone else – a Jedi, for example – confirm it out loud makes it more real. And that’s how Star Wars is teaching me to keep calm and not worry.