The Star Wars Saga is the story of my life.
It has been for as long as I can remember.
Though I have never gazed upon a binary sunset, I have longed for a greater destiny as Luke Skywalker did. And like young Skywalker, when that destiny inevitably came for me, it brought with it friends both strange and unexpected. I found a mentor out in the waste who took me on as his apprentice, though I called him Wayne. I discovered a scoundrel with a heart of gold. His name is Jason. Jessica would become my tough-as nails sister who rescued me more often than I rescued her. I even found a great, furry oaf who stood by my side through thick and thin. Thanks, Steve.
Luke’s adventures became my own and they inspired me during even the most mundane tasks. The first time I ever walked into a bar I was a thousand miles from home, surrounded by strange sights and sounds – and stranger people. I could’ve sworn I heard the bartender say “Your droids, they’ll have to wait outside. We don’t want them here.” A few years later while climbing under my house to repair a frozen pipe during a blizzard and laying on a sheet of 2 inch ice with frozen hands I reached for the flashlight I’d dropped and couldn’t help but imagine myself in a Wampa’s lair on Hoth calling out to my lightsaber. During a summer celebration as I sat surrounded by my family, watching fireworks burst to life above the trees I could’ve sworn I heard tribal drums and the strains of Yub Nub rise into the air.
Anakin too was with me. Like the Chosen One, I was an angry boy praised for his potential and chastised for his lack of control. I remember the delicate sense of shame when I would try to help and all the adults around me would tell me to “Stay in that cockpit.” As a young man I recall the frustration, the self-righteous anger, and the rage I felt as I blamed everyone around me for “holding me back” when the truth was that I was my own worst enemy. And I’ll never forget the moment when my wife looked at me during an argument and literally said to me “Don’t do this. Don’t shut me out.” She inadvertently quoted Revenge of the Sith to me and it hit me like a gut punch.
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Perhaps even more frightening is that Ben Solo is with me on this strange journey too. I remember chuckling to myself ironically the first time I saw The Force Awakens when Kylo Ren said to Rey “You need a teacher. I can help you.” So many of my young friends looked to me as a mentor, while I myself was still torn apart by my own anger and the weight of a family legacy. When Rey said to him across the vastness of the galaxy “It isn’t too late,” I heard my wife’s voice instead in her tireless hope to help me defeat those demons. And in The Rise of Skywalker, when a lightsaber was cast into the sea and Ben Solo returned I recalled my own triumph when I too had once cast off the trinket of a broken relationship into the waves and became my true self.
Maybe it is simply because Star Wars has been with me for as long as I can remember that I parallel its story to the events of my life – often in ridiculous and implausible ways. I’m no Jedi. I’m no Luke Skywalker, no Anakin Skywalker, no Ben Solo. Heck, most days I’d be happy if I can manage to be a Rio Durant or a Snap Wexley. I suspect that most often I’m Threepio, blundering about terrified as I try desperately to avoid whatever dangers the galaxy throws at me.
But I guess that’s the real power of Star Wars, isn’t it? It’s not really Luke’s story. Or Anakin’s. Or Ben’s. Or even Artoo and Threepio’s story. And no, it’s not my story either. It belongs to all of us. Every single person reading this can look at some part of the Star Wars saga and see themselves, their lives, and their struggles. That’s the Force, I think. That’s the energy field that penetrates us and binds us together. And if we’re lucky, the story we share with those heroes and villains in a galaxy far, far away gives us the thing lives (and rebellions) are built on: HOPE.
The Force will be with you. Always.