There is No Try

color photo of a round sculpture

The great sage Yoda reminded me there is no try. Do or do not. Over the last three weeks I have begun a steady change in my behavior. I am tempted to say I am trying to change my behavior. As Yoda reminds me, though, on any given day, I am only doing or not doing the activities I say I want to do. There is no trying.

The doing, however, is providing its own challenges. In the last two weeks I’ve commuter to work by bike three times (I think). My attempt at commuter biking includes clipless pedals. I like them. My foot doesn’t slide around the pedal, and because my foot stays attached to the pedal, I retain all the energy of the crankset on the up stroke. With the retained energy, the ride up the many hills on my morning commute has been made considerably easier. Unclipping my shoe at a stop is the sole downside of clipless pedals. With no forward momentum to keep the bike upright, unless I can place one foot on the ground, the inevitable happens. I fall over, onto the ground.

My right knee took the brunt of the first fall at the top of the first hill not far from my house. That was the same day I also bicycled in the rain. As I pulled myself up and situated my bike I decided to take the bus into work. At my age, I have nothing to prove to anyone. Better a good retreat than a bad stand. On the ride home I practiced unclipping my shoes in advance of stop signs. Then I got better and more confident. But that confidence brought with it a kind of distraction arising from a false belief, a belief that says I don’t have to pay attention on the commute.

another truthOf course I focused my attention on the bike, but not for long periods of time, and only at intersections. Where I lost focus was a parking lot, which brought me to the sight of my second fall. The first fall made me vow I would not fall on my right side. As if by magic, I did not fall on my right side, I fell on my left side, with such force I bruised the base of my thumb and my elbow. The fault was entirely mine. A car passed in front of the parking lot exit with such speed I halted my initial plan to exit the parking lot but then had no further plan. I braked so as to not hit the car. In braking, of course, I lost all forward momentum. Once again I could unclip my shoes and fell over.


Saying I am trying suggests a goal of perfection, a space, where, for example, I bike perfectly. A different attitude creeps in, an attitude in contrast to perfection. I either am doing something or not doing something. Do or do not, as a strategy for approaching new activities suggests not perfection, but activity. I ride my bike. Some days I ride well. Other days I fall over. Whether I fall or do not fall, I am doing the activity of cycling. I am not trying to cycle.

Trying at anything suggests a mindset that confounds doing. What if I try and fail? What if I try and get killed? What if I try and embarrass my self? In doing anything, all or none of these outcomes may occur. All I can do, is do – do the activity I say I want to do and do the activity as beautifully and mindfully as I am capable of doing at any given time. With trying there is shame and blame, of others, but mostly myself.

With doing, I am either doing or not doing. If I am not doing one activity, then I can do another activity. Doing is an act of maturity.

Trying is a mode of behavior that allows to expend a lot energy without really changing or even doing.

Trying to do something takes me out of the present. This morning, for example, I wanted to get up early (5:00 am), leave the house by 5:30 and work out at the gym then arrive at work around 7:30. Well I had been trying to do that, I would have become very angry with myself when I woke up at 5:20 and realized at 6:10 the morning routine we have established takes about thirty minutes to complete.

By doing the early morning routine this morning, but doing it with presence and heart, I learned I need to adjust my expectations about how quickly I can depart the house if, and this is a big if, I want to wait until the morning of to pull everything together. So another doing arose. I need to the do the activity of preparing my clothes, my cameras and laptop, our smoothies and coffee, the night before, if I want to leave by 5:30.

To try is to fail. I see that now. To do is an activity with an outcome and new information. To try is ruse of perfectionsim. I can always do things not perfectly, only more beautifully. In doing them I am never trying. Once I start an activity I am no longer trying. Do or do not. There is no try.

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