Inspire the Force Within You

Posted on in On Our Radar by Sarah Bowen

“It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” —Obi-wan Kenobi

At the mere age of six, I fell in love with the “F” word. Not the forbidden four-letter one. Not the five-letter one from church. No, I heard a wise sage named Obi-Wan Kenobi define mystical energy called the Force, and my life was forever changed.

With an unbridled spirit, I dubbed myself an honorary member of the Rebel lliance, standing bravely against any injustice in my suburban neighborhood. My friends and I met daily to act out elaborate sagas about the Force, constructing cosmic sets with our finger paints and designing costumes with snippets stolen from our mothers’ fabric piles. Brushing off parental criticism that we were embracing violence with our lightsaber battles, we banded together as Jedis for the breathtaking destruction of the Death Star. Through our creative play, we learned about personal responsibility and the difficulty of making moral decisions. Through Star Wars, we discovered what our institutions were trying to teach us. But instead of being told precisely what to believe, belief was awakening. And that awakening became a tiny piece of our DNA.

Since the first Star Wars movie hit screens in 1977, generations of kids have reached out to feel the Force, debating the finer points of what exactly it is and does. As adults, some of us have created scholarly treatises comparing it with Tao, Prana, Qi, Holy Spirit, or Quantum Physics. Yet we may be missing the most crucial element of Force theology. In George Lucas’s notes about the Force he adds that through it, we realize “we have a destiny, and we want to follow it. We want to live for a reason and must discover what it is.”

Studies show that having a purpose in our lives gives us direct benefits, including better sleep, healthier behaviors, lower risk of disease, and longer life. But finding our “higher” purpose often takes some creative thinking, since it doesn’t always appear when we are looking for it. (Cue Han Solo: “That’s not how the Force works!”) Elusive for decades, my own destiny took its time showing up. When it did, I realized my purpose had very little to do with me and more to do with helping others. Which brings me to hairstylist Joshua Coombes, who recently shared his story with me.

Yoda, the Jedi Master
Yoda, the Jedi Master

After a dark period of loss, Joshua questioned who he was and what he wanted to do with the remainder of his life. Drawn to the feeling he experienced with people in his salon chair, he wondered if that connection could be expanded beyond his work. So, one day he spontaneously offered a homeless man a haircut. Joshua told me, “That empty feeling I felt changed. The moment kinda turned on a tap, and this other kind of happiness started flowing in.”

Inspired, he continued the cuts, visually documenting each person on Instagram using the hashtag #dosomethingfornothing. The artistic photos are stunning works of art in themselves. But their purpose is much more than visual. It’s about connection and dignity, truly seeing people (who are often ignored), and listening intently to their stories (which usually go untold). Joshua offers time for people to reconnect with what he describes as “their greater self, their spiritual self, and to the energy that is undeniable. To being awake.” Putting words in his mouth, I suggested that energy might be the Force. He chuckled.

And in that moment, the Force bound us together. Even across the planet from each other, we were connected. An endless spaciousness entered our conversation, elevating it beyond my writing project or his generous work. By simply uttering the words the Force we had tapped it, that which feeds our creativity, enhances our sense of connection, and fuels the call to lives that matter.

Quickly, our conversation turned to this question: How do we tap into our highest purpose? I quoted Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn: “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” Joshua offered me his own creative idea:

» Write down three things that interest you. These might be your passions, your loves, or things that you think you are good at. They could range from music to embroidery to giving legal advice, things that make you feel good when you are doing them.

» Next, write down three things in society that you’re not happy with. Homelessness? Factory farming? Poverty? Illiteracy? Again, it can be anything.

» Think about the parallels between these two lists. How can you do something in List 1 to influence something in List 2? Meditate on it. Journal. Hike it out. The idea may elude you for a bit, but there will be a way to connect them.

As moviegoers, we watched Princess Leia and the Rebel Alliance save the world from Vader’s destructive Death Star, Finn and Rose release space horses from their stable prison, and the woke droid L3 demand equal rights for all life forms. Although our own actions may not be quite as cosmically epic, they do bind this galaxy together.

Yes, Obi-wan was right: A force flows through us. It’s time to tap into it to help heal our own planet.

May the Force be with you.

Sarah Bowen is an aspiring Jedi, multifaith educator, and author of Spiritual Rebel: A Positively Addictive Guide to Finding Deeper Perspective and Higher Purpose. Catch Sarah at East West Bookshop in Mountain View on July 29 or Copperfield’s Books in Sebastopol on September 28.

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