Live! Or die.
Anakin Skywalker shows we must look past regret & fight for tomorrow
Ahsoka never got over the fall of Anakin Skywalker. She was the Chosen One’s Padawan throughout the Clone Wars, depicted in the Star Wars animated series The Clone Wars. Ahsoka would become an incredible warrior over the course of the conflict, but like many Jedi living at that time, it was not what she wanted. The reasons were many, but Ahsoka quit the Jedi Order, and left Anakin Skywalker behind. When Anakin fell to the Dark Side and became the monster known as Darth Vader, Ahsoka was nowhere to be found.
This haunts the wandering warrior leading the new Disney+ series, Ahsoka. If she had been there, perhaps she would have saved him, and saved everyone that Vader would go on to murder. Ahsoka has sunk into her regrets.
“Remind yourself that past and future have no power over you. Only the present—and even that can be minimized. Just mark off its limits.”
- Meditations, Marcus Aurelius
At the beginning of Episode 5 of Ahsoka, titled “Shadow Warrior,” Ahsoka has lost a duel and been cast into the sea to die. She wakes up in what’s known in Star Wars as The World Between Worlds. It’s not so much a place as it is a mindset. A state of being. Sort of like The Construct in The Matrix trilogy.
Anakin Skywalker is waiting for her there. Long dead, her old Jedi Master turned Sith Lord is softly smiling. He has a lesson for her.
“I’ve come to finish your training,” Anakin says.
“What is the lesson, Master?” Ahsoka answers reluctantly.
“To live. Or die.”
This isn’t how I pictured life playing out
Anakin draws his blue lightsaber and forces Ahsoka to fight. Then he takes her back into her traumatic memories of the Clone Wars. When she was just a child, a young Jedi learner, Ahsoka was forced into becoming a soldier in a brutal civil war.
The Jedi should not have been in this situation of leading armies into battle. But there they were. What would Ahsoka and Anakin make of it?
I’ve felt that way. Have you?
I shouldn’t be here.
This isn’t the way things are supposed to be.
This is all wrong.
Yet, here you are regardless. This is what’s happening. How will you respond?
For Ahsoka, Anakin taught her how to charge forward. In the Clone Wars, it was to charge headlong into battle with your wits about you and your lightsaber ready.
The alternative was to linger behind in fear and be killed. To die in the sands of whatever battlefield you were on.
Of course, Ahsoka did have a choice once she was off the battlefield. She could just not be a Jedi. And that was what she eventually chose, standing before the Jedi Council. But in those moments of do or die, one can’t be stuck in the mud of fear, indecision, and doubt. The battlefield of Life is littered with the bones of good people who couldn’t move forward.
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We can’t live in the past. Our mistakes, our missteps, our lowest moments…they are not who we are. The act of living itself has unlimited potential to be the redemption we seek. Bowing out or lying down in our tears of regret is too easy.
Face the day, what else is there?
In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius writes of depression and what is often a thinly veiled homage to the desire to quit living altogether. But amidst all the pain, tragedy, and death that followed him, he writes to himself that getting out of bed in the morning is the duty of a human being. The bedsheets feel nice, and they are safe, but we are meant to live for so much more.
So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being?
Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?
- Meditations: Marcus Aurelius
In reality that does not mean rising from bed and engaging in heroics. Our day might only bring suffering. But that is part of what we’re here to do.
Face it. Look at the boulder obstructing your path — dead on.
And then, carve beautiful things out of the cold, indifferent stone before you.
Fight for better days
My friends, we have to move forward. I’m not talking about society or the culture or making some kind of signal about politics. Just you. We have to keep our eyes on the road. The fear that we’ll fail (yet again) robs us of so much joy, love, and opportunity.
Ahsoka is a beautiful reminder to Star Wars fans that being a Jedi is not what she experienced growing up. The Jedi were not meant to be soldiers, but that is what happened regardless.
To be a Jedi is to act a certain way in the situation you’re given. You’re given hate, and you respond with gentleness. You’re presented with fear, you choose faith and courage. You’re given war, then you fight for peace and with no hatred in your heart. You fight for tomorrow.
“Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi.”
-Luke Skywalker, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
Last week I recommended a song to you by Noah Gundersen called “Haunted House.” His full album has now been released and funny enough, another song on the record speaks to what I’m writing about here.
Sometimes it feels like you're caught in a riptide
That's pulling you out to a watery grave
Sometimes it feels like you've seen enough
It's all too much
You feel like giving up
Sometimes it feels like I'm stretched too thin
How does anyone win in this race that we're in
Sometimes the going gets pretty rough
But I'm hangin' tough
I'm not giving up on better days