Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Storyteller Awakens

Well, here we are on the cusp of a new series of Star Wars movies and I find myself once again deeply nostalgic. As most people of my age group (41), Star Wars had an indelible effect on my youth. I was not fortunate enough to have seen the premiere in 1977, however, the movie was re-released sometime in either late 1979, or early 1980, to drum up the numbers for The Empire Strikes Back. Starting with The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, I have never missed an opening day of any Star Wars movie. I won't be starting anytime soon as my wife and I helped crash the Internet by buying tickets the very second they went on sale.

After what most would agree as a lackluster showing with the prequels, the questions is why do I still care? I've thought about that answer a lot over the years and thought that I might take a minute to write my thoughts on the subject while they are again fresh in my mind. In the late 1970's my folks were going through their divorce which was a tense time in our little trailer in Natchez, Mississippi. Not that the years leading up to the divorce were great times. Most of my memories of that time are of yelling, fighting, and an overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia brought on by the tension between my parents.

When I discovered Star Wars, the movies took on a new meaning for me. I had seen other movies before that, but none of them transported me out of my world to the extent of Star Wars. For a small boy who desperately needed an escape from the day-to-day grind of his household, the movies became my second home. I think my mom took me to see The Empire Strikes Back around twenty times during the summer of 1980. And, with the dawn of the 1980's it was a great time to be in the movie theatre. There was no end to the classics that came out one after another in those years. But, none of them held a candle to the original Star Wars trilogy.

Seeing an unassuming Luke Skywalker follow his destiny out of the desert of his childhood to being the hero of the galaxy was intoxicating, especially for a child with an active imagination. I played with my toys and dreamed of a similar destiny coming to sweep me away to a distant land where my life held more promise than an eventual job in a factory or driving a truck. And, though I never wielded a "real" lightsaber, blew up a Death Star, or developed any abilities through The Force, a destiny did come for me, but not in the way I expected.

My "destiny", such as it has been, has been predominantly self-made. Whether through impatience, or a just a need to prove something to myself, I've wound up creating a lot of great opportunities for myself over the years, but it all started with my mind being blown open to an idea of endless possibilities due to the revolution that was Star Wars. I've made a life for myself which, for the better part of the last 25 years, has revolved around delivering escapism to people through performing music and, as of late, by self-publishing my written works. I find it incredibly healthy and helpful for me to create. And, if I can help others by taking them out of a nasty situation for a few minutes, then I'm re-paying the debt that I owe to George Lucas and the creative team he put together to enable his vision to come to life.

Finally, the real pay off will come when I take my 7 year old daughter to her first Star Wars movie. My mind will be wandering the whole time wondering what she will take away from the experience. Maybe it will have some long-standing effect on her imagination. Perhaps it will just be another movie with the old man. Or, it could be something wholly unexpected causes some brand new idea  to take shape underneath those blond locks which will carry her forward into her own unknown destiny. Only time will tell...

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