Return of the Hope

It’s Christmas morning.
I’m driving to my mother’s house.
Star Wars epic tribute by Samuel Kim is blasting.

He has melded the signature score with victorious salutation from the final trailer, and put a little of his own sauce on it.
The crescendo hits.
The horns blare.
I feel tears trying to creep into my eyes.

I must have listened to this exact song ten times already. And every single time my heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest, my eyes yield their atomic arrangement to that of fountains, melanin mountains with tears threatening to sled down my face. Electricity is in the air, dancing in the road before me, blazing past the cloudy grey skies like lightning on ice skates, make the hair on my arms come alive. The atmosphere is rich with life, and I can feel my entire body smiling- there is church on my lips.

You see- I’m on my way to my mother’s house, but I’ve actually bent mythology and stepped into a Tardis. I’m back in my childhood home, and my mother isn’t there. She’s working overnight as a receptionist at a hotel I never knew the name of. I’m seven. Flanked on either side by my baby brother and my father who I would one day grow semi-estranged from in my quest for a healed heart and freedom from shame fueled living. I’m seven. The day has been confusing because my dad took us to blockbuster and bought three films for us. I’m seven. We’re sitting down in the family room and I’m watching Star Wars for the very first time.

I’m on the 210 freeway.
But I’m back in the family room.
Eyes glued to the boxy, black television.
Our old school Nintendo, tethered to the floor by two AB/Start-Select/four directional pad rectangular controllers sits idly by. Silent. Observing.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher

The screen hums to life with the Fox fanfare that would only be permanent in the copies of these films that I possessed before an unthinkable sale took place. I am informed of a galaxy far, far away… And then- then life sized block letters, the color of lemons too long on the tree come end of summer, paint themselves across my field of vision. Painting with a score so powerful, it would echo in my soul til time’s final breath, constantly drawing me back to it, and becoming easily recognizable to these ears. Star Wars baptized me into its proselytizing rivers in that singular moment, and by the time I finished the third film in that same sitting that fateful night, I would rise a knighted priest of a sacred order.

And I had no idea.
75 miles an hour.
Very few cars on the freeway today.
It’s Christmas.
And I’m headed to my mother’s house.
Warmth lighting the waterfalls behind my eyes.

You see- even as a child, Star Wars was never slow to me. The 70s effects never threw me off or seemed out of place, and even the plot holes- such as they were, for the only story without error is the one that is untold- were greatly eclipsed by the magnanimity of every other element. The spiritual, the practical, the familial, the feminism, the desperate, the moral, the dark, the light- I understood these things. And with every rewatch over the decades, my understanding only deepened, only widened, only grew more secure.

Star Wars, the original trilogy, made me feel something.
Star Wars, the prequel trilogy, was cool to look at.
Star Wars, the sequel trilogy, made me feel nothing.

I can appreciate what the prequel trilogy was trying to accomplish.

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I can respect what the sequel trilogy attempted, the difficulty that Disney’s arrogance blinded them to, and what it should have been (Broad Spectrum Nerds Sequel Trilogy Pitch). But as I drove, the score riffling through the sails of my soul, I realized that I didn’t want to talk about those things anymore. Not right now. I didn’t want to further discuss why The Rise of Skywalker was a humongous failing to the mythology in so many ways, or why Rian Johnson should never have been given a saga movie, or how The Force Awakens (while wonderfully nostalgic) didn’t move the needle forward in any way whatsoever.

It’s like when someone has a near death experience- it’s not that anything becomes less true; they simply become more focused on what is the most truth. The most important. For all truths were not created equal.

For those in non-religious circles, the Church has this practice called Baptism. And the concept of baptism is simply this- while you are yet alive, you die to an old aspect of your self, and emerge in the new, all of this symbolized by being dunked underwater and then brought back up. Usually there is a prayer and a blessing attached to the process. The idea is this- while the death of a thing is required for the birth of a thing, revelation can be its own death if you take it seriously enough. Just like surviving a car accident, or a heart attack, or being the only living survivor in a space where everyone else is killed.

Death wakes up the life in you.

This then is baptism.
The death and resurrection of you into the real you.

I’m on my way to my mother’s house.
Being dunked under the waters of the memories of my seven year old self.
I’m wheeling my way over to the 118 freeway.
Orchestral sounds are dripping from my skin as I emerge.
It’s Christmas.
And I’m awake again.

Star Wars taught me that anything is possible. That was when I learned I was not genetically bound to the failings of my predecessor- more than all of his gifts and shortcomings, I also had something else.

I had a choice.

I learned what good storytelling was. I learned that you can merge spirituality, morality,star-wars-empire-strikes-back-1548696484 family, the supernatural, exotic landscapes, and miscellaneous people types all together into one, cohesive story. I learned that music is a language unto itself, that tells its own tale- and that when you do it right… you don’t have to write or film everything in your saga… because the music will tell the rest of your narrative for you.

Star Wars taught me that all it takes is one brilliant person to change history- but that it takes the humility of that brilliant person and their team to make history. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room… just smart enough to have someone in there who is smarter than you in your weak places.

Star Wars taught me many things.
Numerous things.
Arguably, everything.

But the number one lesson it patiently labored to unveil to me was the untenable audacity of hope. It was what humans strive for. It is what we connect to. It is what we understand. I am fond of saying that “good is the part of the story we all have in common,” and that is true because while not everyone can share in the same darkness of backstory… we all know what it is to hope for the life we do not yet have. The person we have yet to become.

In many ways, every story ever told is about hope. Hope realized, hope frustrated, hope spat upon, hope yearned for, hope lamented, hope idolized, hope manipulated, hope laced tightly with terror… Every single story in human history is about hope. It’s why we drive books to the bestseller list, why we flock to theatres, why we so energetically recreate tales with our friends and loved ones.

We want to know if hope prevails this time.
We want to know if there is a darkness more powerful than hope.
We want to know if hope is worth it.
Hope is what keeps us turning the page.

The quality of your story will always hinge upon how well you understand the role of hope in it, and the creative craftsmanship of your execution.

Star Wars taught me that.

I am on my mother’s block now.
Seven year old me is sitting through the end credits of Return of the Jedi.
I am still swimming around in these triumphant horns.
We smile at each other.
No one can take Star Wars away from us.
No one can erase what Star Wars truly is.

This gift we’ve been given… it’s a forever gift.
And we shall keep on giving it.
I’m done lamenting the loss of Star Wars- nothing ever happened to it. How can I lose that which beats a symphony in my heart every day?

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I’m getting out of my car now.
Grabbing my backpack.
If everyone could be flawlessly talented at continuing the Star Wars legacy… George would’ve been praised for the prequels.
I wave at my niece, brother, and sister in law who have arrived just ahead of me.

So Star Wars encountered poor vision and bad writers.
It happens.
I smile as I turn the music down before exiting my car.
Star Wars, the real Star Wars, is a legacy.
Some have carried that torch properly.
Others have not.
But the sputtering of the hands it was passed to, does nothing to dim its original light.

I’m humming the song now.
Seven year old me drifts asleep, mind alight with an unlimited future.
Star Wars is a legacy.
And I shall carry its torch well.
I’m finally at my mother’s house now.

It’s Christmas.

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Also, check out my first short story anthology “Aces Wild” on Amazon!

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