The Things We Carry

There is a wonderful scene in the iconic Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back, in which Luke, the young Jedi warrior, is being trained by Yoda, the gnome-like therapist Jedi master. The contrast between the two of them is striking. Luke is young, impatient, and his powers are spotty. Yoda is the ageless, gentle master of the Force. In the dark swamp, Luke is drawn to a cave. “What’s in there?” he asks his teacher. Yoda answers, “Only what you take with you.”

 Yoda is trying to tell Luke that we find whatever it is that we carry with us.  Luke begins to strap on his weapons. Yoda says, “Your weapons; you will not need them.” Luke continues and enters the cave armed. Because he carries weapons, he will need to use them.

 Luke encounters the dark knight who he defeats, only to find his own reflection in the fallen soldier. Yoda’s comment is wonderful. Whatever we bring into a situation, we will use. If we carry weapons, we will find a use for them. If we carry compassion, we will use that. If we carry anger…on and on, you get the point. 

 Years ago scientists who studied gorillas in their natural habitat carried guns and, sure enough, they needed them.  When they stopped carrying weapons, they watched for signs from the gorillas that told them whether to retreat, stay, or advance. They didn’t need the guns; they relied on other techniques (observation, attention, interest) that they learned to carry.

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