The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 9, 2013

Yoda phrase constitutes words to live by

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Graduation season is upon us.

In the next few weeks, everyone from doctoral candidates to kindergartners will be walking across the stage as family and friends look on with pride, smart phones recording every precious moment.

Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance,” will be played, over and over, thousands of times in the coming days.

Speeches will be given, diplomas handed out, hoods bestowed, caps tossed high into the air and photos taken.

And, at most high school graduations, somewhere in the program will be listed the official class motto.

I guess my class had a motto. I don’t remember.

It probably was something literary, or, knowing our class, may have been something more prosaic like “Don’t trust anyone over 30” or “Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.”

Some classes have great mottos, like that of the Grant (Neb.) High School class of 2013: “If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, then they can sure make something out of us,” a statement attributed to Muhammad Ali.

In Missouri, the motto for the Northeast Nodaway R-V High School class of 2013 is: “The past is behind us, the future is before us, but the memories are forever with us.”

The motto for the Holyoke (Colo.) High School Class of 2013 is: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.

But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning,” a quote from Winston Churchill.

Lincoln County High School’s class of 2013, from Fayetteville, Tenn., has as its motto: “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”

In Nebraska, Freeman High School’s class of 2013 has a sweet motto, “Came as strangers and left as family.”

But possibly my all-time favorite high school class motto comes from right here, right now. The motto for Enid High’s class of 2013 is “Do, or do not, there is no try.”

This pithy sentiment comes not from a great statesman, philosopher,  poet, author or athlete, but from a short (two feet, two inches on tiptoes), greenish, wrinkled, 900-year-old, bald guy of unknown origin with some seriously long and pointy ears who talks really funny.

No, I’m taller than that, I’m not green and my ears aren’t pointy. I’m talking about Yoda.

The venerable Jedi master, who first appeared in the second “Star Wars” film (actually Episode V), “The Empire Strikes Back,” certainly has a way with words.

His peculiar way of speaking has been dubbed “Yodish.”

It involves jumbling up words and phrases so they almost come out backwards.

It brings to mind the dialect of the Pennsylvania Dutch, who have been known to say things like: “Throw Papa down the stairs his hat,” or “Spread me all over with apple butter a piece of bread” — fractured phrases Yoda would understand perfectly.

Yoda is wont to say things like “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?” and “Hear you nothing that I?”

A recent bit of Yodish has appeared on a T-shirt available in these parts, which features a drawing of Yoda holding a basketball, with him saying, “Up you must Thunder.” Think about it.

Yoda uttered the EHS class of 2013 motto in the swamps of the planet Dagobah, as he endeavors to train brash young Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Jedi Knights.

“All right, I’ll give it a try,” says Luke, drawing Yoda’s terse reply, “No. Try not. Do, or do not, there is no try.”

That’s a bit of great wisdom, and a worthy class motto, even if it does come from a fictional character voiced by Frank Oz, who once provided the voice for the Muppets’ Miss Piggy.

It means don’t whine, don’t make excuses, don’t shrink from the challenges facing you, no matter what they are, just do what needs to be done as best you can.

If the members of the EHS class of 2013 heed these words, successful they will be as their lives they live. Darn, now he’s got me doing it.

Best of luck to all 2013 graduates, and remember these words of Master Yoda, “Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.”



Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.