“Truly wonderful the mind of a child.” -Yoda
When are you going to grow up? Aren’t you a little old for this? Oh, how many times these words have been spoken to me.
Probably my favorite Star Wars movie of either trilogy is The Empire Strikes Back. Now, I realize that this is often a point of hot contention among fans, but out of all six movies, Empire is the best. This movie contains many of my favorite Star Wars moments. From the one-liners and comedic interactions, to the action and chase scenes, to the startling and dark revelation from Darth Vader, it is without a doubt, my favorite.
Some of the most incredible moments in this movie are the training scenes with Luke and Master Yoda. Scenes between these two characters are packed full of so many lessons (many of which will be explored in future chapters). In the initial encounter, how Yoda introduces himself is priceless – THE Master Yoda, one of the greatest Jedi in history, appears as nothing more than a crazy, child-like, old creature. He talks funny and makes a nuisance of himself (I have been known to do this – just ask my wife). He then proceeds to help himself to food, makes a huge mess just throwing stuff around the campsite, and even manages to fight R2 over a flashlight (come to think of it, this sounds very familiar – like some days at home with my kids).
Basically, through this entire initial encounter, he manages to simply be a huge annoyance. Only when back at Yoda’s hut, does Luke begin to realize he is much, much more. As Luke sits, and becomes more and more frustrated at the waiting and seemingly endless dawdling by Yoda, he finally losses it. Yoda simply sighs and begins to talk to Obi-wan, and at this point, Luke begins to realize he is in the presence of greatness.
As Yoda is making excuses for “passing” on Luke’s training, there is one statement he says that has really stood out to me as I have gotten older. Yoda says, “He is too old…yes…too old to begin the training.” As an older Star Wars fan, one who has grown up with the franchise, I have heard that very familiar refrain – “Aren’t you a little old for that…” or “Haven’t you grown out of that – that is kids’ stuff?” Perhaps some of you have heard similar statements.
Working in education and having children of my own, I am realizing more and more that we are living in a very fast paced society – one in which children are expected to grow up quickly. Many things are thrown at them early – much earlier than when I was their age – and I see many of them losing that childlike wonder and enjoyment of the “simple and fun things” of life. While so young, their innocence and faith is taken from them and they are forced to “grow up”, be rational, and learn how the world really works.
Our culture seems to be pushing them to grow up so quickly. Just look at the things they are exposed to on TV, in movies, news, “kids programs”, and commercials. From inappropriate themes, to crime, from bullying, to what seems to be the growing pressures of just being a kid – these little ones have less and less time to just be a kid.
Not only are they exposed to much more at an early age, often children today find themselves walking through hard experiences, that have forced them to “become adults” long before they should have. The realities of life build a cynicism and hardness in them that is difficult to overcome. Now, I know, bad things happen. Bad stuff is out there, and we cannot protect them from everything. What we can do is try to help them hold on to that child-like wonder and faith for as long as possible.
There will always be some problem, there will always be some heartbreak, and there will always be hard things to walk through – I am sure we could all name dozens of examples. Yet in this, even as hard as it is, they can still be a kid at heart, seeing life through the faith and wonder of a child, and so can we. Children have the ability to trust and have faith when common sense says “no”. They can see joy, even in the midst of sorrow, and they can play, even when there are problems.
Being a dad, I am learning how important it is to help them hold on to those simple enjoyments of life, this “faith” that sees them through. Our children need to be able to find joy in a snowball fight, playing in the leaves, having fun with friends, in watching a movie, and even in having a simple lightsaber fight. Since there will be plenty of time to deal with all the “grown-up” stuff of life, why rush it? When I have had a long day, I find I still enjoy escaping to that far away galaxy, and after I take time to enjoy some of those “childish pleasures”, I find once again, I am ready to face that “grown-up” world.
Today, our kids need that more than ever. Every child, and adult, needs to know that it is okay to take time for the little pleasures of life. It is good to stop, and simply be a kid, even at the age of 30, 40, 50, and beyond. When faced with grown up “stuff”, they need to know it is okay to still be a kid.
As I walk further along in this journey of life, I realize that maybe the simple things really do make the walk more enjoyable. When we take time to enjoy these “child-like” experiences, it sometimes makes dealing with the “real world” a little easier. In even the crazy times we deal with, I know that I never want my children to lose a love for the simple things, or become “too old” to enjoy the little things of life. I want them to carry these pleasures with them throughout their lives and realize that no matter how old you grow you are never too old to enjoy those things you loved as a child. You are never to “mature” to view the world with the childlike wonder and faith you did so many years ago.
Now, I know, this may not be exactly what this scene is about, but as I have watch and read this more and more, this thought just jumped out at me. Sometimes, we do not hold on to that faith we had as a child, because life has knocked us around a little, and we have forgotten what it is like to approach life through the trusting eyes of a child. We are so busy being grown up and sensible, that we forget to look at life through a child’s eyes.
As you think about this, I would encourage you to stop and ask yourself some questions. Have you had similar experiences? Have you seen your kids “growing-up” too soon and shedding the simple enjoyments of childhood, and how have you helped them walk through it? Have you lost that childlike wonder, and what can you do to get it back?
In my journey of life, I have been through many difficult things, and gotten knocked around and knocked down a few times. Yes, there have been times when it was – and is – hard to hold to those simple enjoyments, to look at the world as a child does, to simply have faith and let things go and be a kid again. Each day I am realizing how important this really is. So how about you – are you still taking time to be a “kid”, or have you become “too old” for such things? Do you still have that faith and wonder, or has cynicism taken over your heart and mind. Take time in this new year to stop, and be a kid again. Hopefully, we, and our kids, can hold to these things throughout our life – and in some ways, never really grow up, and always have that heart of a child.