On the surface, Star Wars is a story about good versus evil. It can seem simplistic to anyone who does not delve into the lair of the Sarlacc to find out as much as possible about the saga.
But it’s so much more than that as any fan can attest to. It’s changed our lives to a varying degree or has been a guiding point for some of us throughout our life.
I was faced with a tough situation recently that brought the wisdom of Star Wars to the forefront of my mind. I began to think about the way Star Wars has helped me throughout my years since I began to be obsessed with it.
This was when I first started getting into Star Wars. Only the OT was available at that point and I used Star Wars to understand the classic good versus evil. I was more simplistic back then and when I thought about “life” as a whole, it was black and white.
What helped me the most was the part in ESB where Luke asks Yoda:
“Is the dark side stronger?”
“No… no… no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.”
“But how am I to know the good side from the bad?”
“You will know. When you are calm, at peace.”
So simple, but just what I needed at that point in my life. Luke asks the point blank question on if the dark side is stronger and Yoda doesn’t give a wishy-washy answer. The answer was no.
I began to get restless at this age. I understood there was more out there but I couldn’t quite grasp it yet. I got antsy and frustrated. Middle school was crueler, harder. TPM came out when I was 11 and that’s when I began again to look at not just good versus evil, but being a better person as well.
I also watched Luke’s journey more closely, understanding that he took a hard journey to become the Jedi that we knew him to be at the end of ROTJ. It’s not always easy to do right, but it’s what you should do.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but during this time I kept a “Jedi Journal”. Each day I would write down ways where I failed to live up the Jedi standard and how to improve. Looking back, it sounds a little extreme, but it did help me become a lot more aware of my actions.
Angsty Teens (13-18)
I think this was one of the hardest parts of my life as the bullying began in middle school and I tried to find my place in high school. I was different, nerdy, strange, and openly known as being obsessed with Star Wars. Getting up and going to school was so difficult in the beginning, but gradually it became easier as people realized I didn’t care what they thought. My friends were my friends because they liked me, not what I wore or what I loved. That’s not to say I didn’t struggle – but I think this time period taught me to find myself and remain firm.
I had my first boyfriend whom I went out with for 2.5 years in high school and I remember he struggled with going out with *me*. He was more popular than I was, fit in more, and many people couldn’t understand why he would want to be with me. (Yes, I know, looking back, I’m not sure why I stayed with him that long but hindsight is 20/20.) In turn, that made me feel more out of place because I wasn’t necessarily accepted by his friends and my friends also felt uncomfortable around him. It was a strange, isolating experience.
I gravitated towards the women of Star Wars during this time period: Padmé and Leia. I liked how Amidala was in TPM, strong and just didn’t give a hoot what others thought about her decisions. I loved Leia’s spunk and how she was a princess, Han a smuggler, and yet they still ended up together. Each woman knew they were smart and didn’t care what people thought of them.
For the first time in my life, I don’t think I stayed true to myself during my freshman year of college. I had a roommate who loved to party and I thought that was what I was supposed to do too. I went out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights…even when all I wanted to do was stay in and watch a movie. I dabbled with different men and learned how to look “hot”. She was cruel, judgmental, and selfish, yet I thought that somehow translated to confident when it was anything but. By hanging out with her so much, I also became similar to her than I like to admit.
I remember being home in between freshman and sophomore year for summer and feeling so much more relaxed. I realized I hadn’t watched Star Wars once during that freshman year. I had given up on my Hyperspace/starwars.com blog and had let my love for Star Wars fade. I began watching the movies again and also realized how far I had strayed from whom I was. Me…who had always prided myself in staying true to my roots. Yes, people knew I loved Star Wars, it’s not like I hid it, but I had forgotten why I loved it. That’s the most essential puzzle piece to being the level of fan that I am.
I went back into sophomore year with an effort to be more of who I was. I had the same roommate (really bad call) and it hit the fan pretty fast, but I’m proud that I stuck to my gut feeling that I wasn’t the person I wanted to be when I was with her. Our “friendship” fell apart and our time together was an icy standoff for the remaining 5 months of sophomore year.
As I separated myself from her and her lifestyle, the rest of my college ride went pretty smoothly. I did not party as much, I studied more and had a few boyfriends. The nicest of those men was a scoundrel who is now my husband.
The Dawn of Marriage (23-28)
Being married has come with way more difficulties than people ever tell you. Or perhaps they try to tell you but you believe your love is the strongest ever and it’s not hard at all. Marriage is hard work and it’s hard work every single day. Some days are not so hard, but other days are the hardest thing in the world. Yet, it’s rewarding and gratifying at the same time if you give it patience and watch it grow like a young plant.
I’ve realized in the past 5 years that good and evil are not so clear cut as I may have thought when I was growing up. Being an exemplary Jedi is not as easy as I thought either. Sometimes we struggle or don’t do what we know we should do.
Rewatching the saga during my marriage has made me realize more than a few things, but it’s been Anakin’s turn to the dark side that has always stayed with me.
Anakin goes to the dark side to save Padmé. I might not have seen the significance of this when ROTS first came out, but I get it more now. Anakin is not really doing what is wrong in his eyes because to him — it’s an act of selflessness. He will do anything to save the woman he loves and is there anything wrong with that? Yes, obviously we know there is, but it makes me feel for him. I realize that sometimes our choices seem right to us and they make sense, but you’re caught up in a mess of mynocks before you can change your mind. At that point, you just roll with it and it gets harder and harder to get out.
Which is why it’s good to have a support system and be truthful with your spouse. Whenever Padmé and Anakin began to get into a conversation where honesty could have changed their future, it flat lined and they avoided digging deeper. The secrets they hid from each other, never mind keeping their relationship a secret from the outside world, put a large strain on their marriage. I see that and am reminded of how fragile a marriage, or any relationship, is unless you are both honest and keep communication flowing.
Present Day (28-?)
Recently, I’ve seen some of my friends go through hard times in their own marriage, with discussions of divorce and counseling circulating. They ask for advice, but really, who am I to give it? It’s not my relationship and the problems they have are not ones I have so it’s hard for me to relate. The one line I keep coming back to is when Luke wants to change Han’s mind in ANH but Leia says,
He’s got to follow his own path. No one can choose it for him.
I can only be here for my friends, I can’t fight a war for them and I most certainly cannot give advice. Nor do I want to. They have to follow their own path and make their own decisions, no one else can do that.
There are also a few things already at work within me since TFA was released. I find myself emulating Rey in the most random of circumstances. As I work on moving things out of the guest bedroom to make way for a new family member, I find myself doing a lot more than I used to. I’ve been trying to figure out power tools, installing shelves myself, and I even did half of the diaper changing table before my husband woke up! It’s this small voice in the back that says, “I bet Rey would have been able to do this herself.”
I’m entering a new stage of my life right now. I can feel my little Jedi kicking within me and wonder how Star Wars will continue to shape my life. How can I show her to be self-sufficient like Rey? To be smart like Padmé? To not care what other people think? To work for justice and peace in our galaxy? To know good versus evil?
How will I pull from Star Wars to continue to change my life and possibly hers, even if it’s indirectly?