What Star Wars Means To Me

01This week was supposed to be a fun, happy time for me. Not only are we only a week away from Christmas, but we’ve finally arrived at the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, my most anticipated movie of the year and the first cinematic look at a post-Battle-of-Endor Star Wars galaxy. This week should be a wonderful, triumphant celebration… but it isn’t. Instead I am anxiously awaiting the results of a biopsy of a mass on my cat’s lymph nodes, and struggling to keep him fed and medicated in the meantime. I can’t be excited about anything, even Star Wars, the way I would have been a week ago. But as it turns out, it is Star Wars itself that may be my saving grace in the middle of all this uncertainty and dread.

The low point (so far) of this whole experience was Monday night. Our cat Sam was refusing to eat or take his medicine and kept hiding under our armchair. On top of that we realized that my girlfriend Shiran might not be able to go to the movies on Thursday and we continued to be besieged by bugs in our apartment. We were feeling dejected and frustrated and upset, and getting short with each other and with Sam. I was beginning to feel helpless in the face of these shitty circumstances. More to the point, I was afraid. I was afraid of losing my cat. I was afraid I wasn’t taking care of him the right way. I was afraid I was taking my frustrations out on Shiran and Sam. I was afraid of petty things, like not being able to enjoy the new movie or not having fun with my girlfriend during Christmas. It was this fear that was driving me and distracting me and depressing me, and no matter what else I tried to focus on it was polluted by the fear. I felt like I was stuck with this fear and this was going to be how it was until Sam was healthy again.

And then, like a flash, Yoda’s words came to me: Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. It’s a simple enough philosophy, but one that I took solace in at that moment. I considered that as long as I succumbed to the fear of what could be lost, it would lead to more anger and frustration. I would keep lashing out at my girlfriend and my pet, the ones I’m most afraid to lose, and it would just perpetuate the sadness that had permeated our home for the entire weekend. Yoda also scolds Luke for having spent his whole life looking for his future, “never his mind on where he was, hm! What he was doing!” Just as Luke should have focused on the present moment, I needed to as well. Until we heard from the vet about Sam’s test results there was nothing more we could do; getting concerned about the future was pointless. And the less concerned I was about the future, the easier it was to handle my fear and control my anger.

In trying to focus on the present moment with Sam and Shiran, I was able to sit down and watch the Original Trilogy with them again. And in doing that, I found myself responding to another element of the films on a whole new level: the love and compassion amongst our heroes. Throughout the saga, our heroes are defined by what they do for others, for the selfless actions they take to try and protect each other. This is a group of friends who would do anything for each other. Even Han Solo, the self-involved, too-cool-for-school outlaw, learns to fight for his friends and takes their cause as his own. They love each other and fight for each other, and watching that all over again illustrates exactly how I feel about what I’m going through. I’ll do anything to get Sam healthy and make Shiran happy, just as Luke, Han and Leia would for each other; what better way to honor my heroes than living in their example?

I have loved Star Wars for longer than I can even remember. And while such a deep-seeded childhood favorite could easily become a calcified rock of nostalgia, what has allowed Star Wars to endure for me is how it continues to speak to me as my life progresses. When I was young, it was sheer escapism, distracting me from bullies and homework and boredom. During high school and college, it spoke to my ennui and my desire to get out in the world on my own terms. And now, in adulthood, it serves as a source of calm guidance, giving me the necessary perspective to handle difficult times. That is the essence of art, and it should be the goal of good escapist entertainment. Big fun geek adventures shouldn’t just be shallow distractions; rather, they should illuminate and reflect your troubles to help you confront them. For me, Star Wars has done this better than any other story, and I will always love it for that. I may not know what the future holds for Sam, or for Shiran and myself, but I’m glad I have the example of Star Wars to help us all face it together.

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