Friday, January 22, 2016

The Dark Side

We all feel a pull to the dark side at times...
I must confess that I’ve lived much of my life in the shadow of Star Wars – hard not to if you’re called Luke and at school in the 1980s. Most weeks I’d hear a classic quote from the films shouted across the halls or playground “Luke – I am your father” (actually a misquote but we won’t go into that here).

Bizarrely my earliest memory is seeing Return of the Jedi at Criccieth cinema in Wales on a family holiday when I was 3 or 4. I must say that I do really enjoy the films, I love the classic “hero journey” storyline, and deep down I’m quite a fan of sci-fi anyway.

Whether you’re into Star Wars or not, you may know that the underlying narrative is the fight between the dark and light side of the mystical “force” which binds the universe together. Various key characters wrestle with the dark and the light, either using their force-inspired skills for good, or for harm. The stand-out character is Darth Vader, dressed all in black with a distinctive face mask and samurai style helmet. His story is one of the most compelling in the series - a talented but troubled young man who, as a result of grief and love, is lured towards the dark side of the force to become the ultimate bad guy. His story is also one of final redemption.
"Whether you’re a fan of Star Wars or not, you may know that the big picture narrative is the fight between the dark and light"
The other day a friend remarked to me about how relentlessly positive my posts generally were, and how that was an antidote to some difficult circumstances he was facing. He was right, and there's a reason why I craft my writing with that deliberate bias. It's not that nothing bad ever happens in my life, or that I'm in denial about the daily tragedy in the world. I don't believe that positive thinking by itself can completely solve all our problems either.

Don't go all Darth Vader...
Like Darth Vader I think we all feel the pull of the dark side in our lives - perhaps in our creative expression most of all.

At the heart of the dark side is selfishness and self-centredness, and when we start to feel like the world revolves around us that's when we can begin to spiral downwards. Yoda, another Star Wars character, describes the descent as beginning with fear, which leads to destructive negative thinking.

It's easy to be fearful in our lives. When I'm writing there's always a nagging fear about what people think, whether it's any good. It's easy to be selfish and self-centred - to want the fame, glory and fortune - but none of this really does any good in the long run, or even in the short term!

When expressing my creativity it's a constant battle for me to stay outward looking, generous, seeking to serve and to enjoy the process rather than using any of my talents for purely selfish reasons.

None of us ever have truly pure motives, but we can make the choice to err on the side of the light, the positive, the good rather then to become self-absorbed and self-obsessed. We can create with authenticity despite pain, grief, disappointment - even despite fear - when we're seeking to serve others with what we do.
"we can make the choice to err on the side of the light, the positive, the good rather then to become self-absorbed and self-obsessed"
My underlying goal with my writing, podcasting and general content creation is to help others become the best expression of who they're made to be. This is why I choose to write with a deliberate positive bias - it's encouragement, motivation, inspiration to reach higher, to go deeper, to stretch wider in our talents and gifts. And it's in all our best interests to do that. When we're doing what we're made to do, not only do we get built up but we fulfil a need for the world around us.

Reach out, and up
I'm a big fan of the music of Josh Garrels, the awesomely talented musician and songwriter. His beautiful musical documentary "The Sea In Between" is one of the most inspiring films about the creative process I've ever watched.

A quote of his that stands out to me every time I watch it is about how we can use our talents as weapons to put less talented people down, or we can use them instead to invite people into our deep joy.

I believe in a loving God who has given us all diverse and deliberate talents, dreams and passions for a reason - not just for our own sake but for the benefit of those around us too.

Our challenge is to do the best with what we've got, no matter how much that is - and that's the heart of my writing.

We're all tempted by the dark side, I know I am, but instead of becoming Darth Vader I'm committed to becoming the best Luke I can be - and to helping you become the best version of you too. It's not a Jedi mind trick, simply a choice to dwell on the right things, as Paul so neatly summarises in his letter to the Philippians:

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Phil 4:8)

It's as simple and as hard as that - focusing on the right things not dwelling on the wrong things. So next time you feel the lure of the dark side, look up, and make the choice to focus on the light.
"Our challenge is to do the best with what we've got, no matter how much that is"

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Thanks for taking the time to read The Dark Side. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for expanded musings and much more (direct RSS feed is here). 

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2 comments:

Mrs Tubbs said...

"we can make the choice to err on the side of the light, the positive, the good rather then to become self-absorbed and self-obsessed"

That's so true! Each day is a choice :)

Luke Strickland said...

For sure - and there's the challenge! Appreciate you dropping in.