Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Growing with the Saga, Childhood In Tact

Like many of you, on Thursday I went with my two boys to the theater. What a glorious evening! I was too young to see A New Hope in 1977, but I have vivid memories of seeing Return of the Jedi. I saw Phantom Menace with my new wife and uncle in 1999. Now, I took my own offspring to see this glory of a film.
At first, I was a little kid, stolen away to a movie by my doting aunt. For the second trilogy premiere I was a young man beginning my adult life just a few days after my wedding. Now as a grown man, I share the joys with the ones I am trying, with varying degrees of success, to raise.

Dad and Eli 
While contemplating the new mysteries of The Force Awakens, at no point was my childhood attacked or stolen. At no time were the challenges of my 20s negated. As a man closing in on 40, this new movie does not change who I was. You know what I am getting at. We all have that friend, or may have been that one, who complains about one director or another stealing our childhood. It seems to me those people are still working hard to maintain their childishness.
We experience movies through the lens of whatever circumstances may be happening in our real lives at the time. My parents divorced in the mid 90s, so the Prequel Trilogy offered some challenging motifs for me in terms of what a marriage should look like. One of the dynamics set up in the recent release has great bearing on my life as a father, and perhaps I can write about that in another month or two after the spoiler embargo has lifted.
I want to challenge you. I want to challenge you to examine the things that we each add to the movies, and see if we are our own oppressors. We add ourselves, and forget that we come to each movie in a new way at every stage of our personal development.
himym ewok line 
At no point should we be stuck in the past, beholden to a time that is no longer. What is the value of nostalgia? If it offers a joyous memory or a warning from a previous point in our lives, there is value. But when we try to relive the past glories, or to go back to a time that has faded into the mists, we will always be subjected to disappointment. The Original Trilogy is right where we left it, though our lives have moved on. Think about it: have you changed your feelings about the Ewoks? For some, they were cute teddy bears that morphed into fierce tiny warriors as we aged. Funny how that happens. We changed, and yet the frames of the movie did not. But we have invested so much of ourselves into the saga that the expectations and hoes may have calcified, and we feel a dark call to regress as well. This type of nostalgia is harmful; and when we are harmed, the pain is deflected back to the source, like a laser bolt deflected from a lightsaber.
After Thanksgiving, I visited the grave of my grandparents with my wife and kids. I do this a few times a year, but this time it was connected to a holiday. My youngest asked questions about their lives, seeing the dates on the marker. They asked about my relationship with them. But in the end, we had to move on and leave that place. We cannot sit in the graveyard until our own demise comes. We call to remembrance the good things of the past, and honor them only by advancing our own lives, and perhaps only because we stand as successors of such a great cloud of witnesses.
  • Anakin returned to the Tatooine of his youth, and lost a bit of the soul when he could not reconcile the new state of affairs there.
  • Obi-Wan saw the horrific demise of his master, but vowed to carry on with Qui-Gon’s work.
  • Princess Leia saw the destruction of her entire homeworld, and lead the Rebellion to great heights.
  • Han and Luke… we shall save any of those observations for another time!
We can call to remembrance the good times of our past, but we cannot recover them, nor bring them back to life. Time recedes into the cobwebby places of our minds, though remaining fresh in our hearts. The memories can be guides and companions in a healthy heart, or they can become oppressive taskmasters when they become the habitation of the soul.
As we move into the new era of the Star Wars saga, it is my hope that the story spurs personal and spiritual growth. I hope that the lessons of the new generation of heroes inspires maturity in real relationships that honors the mythos that has always tried to call the hero within us to leave our small dusty hovels and change the galaxy in profound ways.

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