I’ll never forget sitting in the Roxy Theater in Tacoma waiting for the original Star Wars movie to start. We waited in a line went all the way around the block. Everyone knew this movie was going to be a big deal. It was 1977 and we’d seen movies about space adventure but you could always see the fishing line that was suspending the spaceships and tell that there were sparklers for rocket engines. Star Wars was going to be different but we had no idea how much different.
The the lights went down and the now famous Star Wars fanfare started. As the intro story words faded smaller and smaller into the distance, a small space ship came across the screen and we were all impressed. Then it happened. The movie world changed. You could hear the jaws drop and hit the floor when the massive, and I do mean massive, Star Destroyer slowly expanded to fill the entire width of the huge screen. Everyone in the theater gasped. I’ve been to a thousand movies but I’ve never heard an entire audience do that since that movie (with only one exception which I will describe below).
The reason for sharing that story is so, in case you’ve never seen a black and white television, you will realize that we were completely blown away. When Darth Vader finally entered the movie we didn’t think that he looked silly at all. He was ominous! He was the embodiment of evil. He was way more threatening that anything that we’d ever seen including the creature from the Black Lagoon or the spacemen from The Invaders. The guy was evil, powerful and could crush your throat from across the room. The second time I heard a massive gasp in a theater was when Darth Vader finally admitted that he was Luke Skywalker’s father. No one saw that coming.
But, I digress. I was watching Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace in preparation for the December 2015 release of Star Wars VII. Young Anakin Skywalker seemed like such an innocent little boy. He was discovered by Qui Gon Jinn, the somewhat renegade Jedi knight. Convinced that Anakin was going to “balance the Force”, he took him before the Jedi Council and asked to be able to have him trained as a Jedi. They refused because they sensed something wrong. They could sense that he was filled with fear. Going against the wishes of the Council, Qui Gon decided to mentor him nonetheless.
Shortly before dying in a battle with Darth Maul, Qui Jon bent down and told young Anakin, “Your focus determines your reality.” Five powerful words that could have changed his life, not to mention the whole Star Wars legacy. Although he had tremendous power, he was corrupted by his focus on “the dark side”. He was corrupted by fear. Good grief. Rather than “balancing the force, he went on to become the most feared guy in the universe.
I’ve written before about the concept of Target Fixation and the irresistible power it has. Motorcyclists are warned about it. Emergency responders are trained to use it. When the world around you seems out of control, you will go where you look. Whether you are struggling with work, relationships or just every day life, where you put your focus will determine “your reality” and it will determine where you will go. If you focus on the negative in your life, it will multiply. If you focus on the positive, it will multiply. I’m pretty sure this is one of the laws of physics. Perhaps even one of the laws of thermodynamics. You go where you look. Your focus determines your reality. Either way, these are five words worth pondering.