It’s no secret I love Star Wars: you may already know that from my Star Wars comic book skirt, to my Boba Fett necklace, to my Boba Fett keychain, or me talking up the Star Wars mythology every chance I get. Star Wars is my world and it’s how I learned everything that’s important like family, faith and love.
When I was a kid growing up in the ‘80s I thought everyone had waited in a long line to see a Star Wars movie, knew the joke, “Fly casual,” (Han says this to Chewie in Return of the Jedi as they’re going past an Imperial gate in a stolen Imperial ship) or that Darth Vader’s boss in Star Wars is Governor Tarkin (not the Emperor), or that Miss Piggy, aka Frank Oz, is also Yoda’s voice. Star Wars was such a force in the pop culture world I grew up in I didn’t realize I had become part of a bubble until I started writing and reading my Star Wars poems.
I was shocked to find many of my fellow poets didn’t know who Darth Vader is. WHAT?!! Or think Boba Fett is a character I made up—what???!!! I mean, where were you living in 1980? To me, knowing Star Wars is like knowing all your Disney characters of Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and Nemo, which makes total sense since Disney bought Star Wars from George Lucas. Many folks, like my good friend George, tell me they don’t like Star Wars because they don’t like sci-fi/fantasy. I can respect that, but I’m going to tell those folks, just as I told George, Star Wars is more than shoot ‘em bad guys with laser guns and escaping in fast spacecraft—it’s about 4 fundamental life lessons, and they are….
Faith over Fear
Master Yoda teaches Luke to let go of fear because giving into fear is giving in to the Dark Side—which is where Darth Vader ended up. Vader was scared of looking bad; he didn’t want anyone else getting the last word and he wanted power because he was scared of getting trampled without it. His son Luke is also scared and his fear is what brings him to Cloud City where Darth Vader has already laid a trap for him—Luke loses his right hand because of not having faith in himself. Having faith is hard. It requires you to take a big leap into the unknown while others mock you and while you may mock yourself.
Thanks to Ben Kenobi’s encouragement, in the first Star Wars movie, Luke puts away his tracking computer on his X-wing to fire the proton torpedoes into the Death Star. But later in the second movie Luke didn’t think he could use the Force to raise his X-wing from the swamp and so he didn’t. But Yoda showed him how it was done and then said, “This is why you fail.” The Lesson: When things are hard and money is tight, do you still believe in yourself and your value to the world? Surrender to faith!
Find a New Family through Friends
All of the characters in Star Wars such as Darth Vader, Luke, Obi-Wan, Leia, Yoda, Han, Chewie, R2-D2 (RIP Kenny Baker!) and C3-PO are all orphans. Sometimes the family you’re born to is NOT the family you’re supposed to be with. Usually the family you choose is much better than your family of origin. And sometimes, your friend family can bring you back to your real family—as in the case of Luke and Darth Vader, our son and father of the Trilogy, or like Luke and Leia, the real blood twins.
Luke’s aunt and uncle, although well-meaning, were holding him back; Han and Chewie found each other and became blood brothers, as did R2 and Threepio. Threepio is actually Darth Vader’s son. Leia had nice parents, but her real dad, Darth Vader, blew them up, while Darth Vader had a nice mom, she was killed by Sandpeople and so he chose his new dad, the Emperor, and that toxic situation worked out for Vader and the Emperor for a while until the Emperor wanted Luke as his new “son.” Han Solo was going “solo” his whole life and didn’t have any friends beyond Chewie. Luke became his BFF and then Leia became his partner—they changed Han for the better and taught him loyalty and friendship count, even if being around other people can be annoying sometimes. This lesson hits very close to home for me since I had to find a new family after I was estranged by my origin family. The Lesson: We learn the most about ourselves through relationships. Are you surrounding yourself with positive, influential people who make you better every day?
Success Comes After Failure
Luke is not your typical movie-star hero because he fails a number of times. In the second movie he fails at the Lesson of the Cave with Yoda when he brings his lightsaber into the cave and slices Vader’s head off and then sees his own face revealed. Luke fails his friends when he falls into Vader’s trap at Cloud City—he caused extra trouble for Han, Leia, Chewie and especially Threepio who got blown to bits! But all of this failure was good training for facing the formidable foe of the Emperor. At that huge battle in the third movie Luke failed again when Vader taunts him with:
Give yourself to the Dark Side. It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for… sister. So, you have a twin sister.
Your feelings have now betrayed her, too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the Dark Side… then perhaps she will…
This statement triggers Luke’s anger and he slices off Vader’s right hand—symmetry, no? But, then, Luke learns from this failure and puts down his weapon and tells that hideous jest of a human being, the Emperor, that he’ll never join him and that “I’m a Jedi like my father before me.” Which then leads to Vader killing the Emperor because Luke desperately needed his dad’s help at this point since the Emperor had Force-lightninged him to the ground.
Obi-Wan also failed by training Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader before he turned) in the Force when Yoda told him not to, but that eventually led to the good guys’ success…well, after a ton of people were killed. The Lesson: Learn from ALL of your failures because they are wonderful educational tools and research for your eventual success!
Live a Debt-Free Life
Maybe Han Solo thought that smuggling spice for Jabba the Hutt was a good idea. But when he had to dump the spice to avoid an Imperial raid, it cost him big time and that meant Han had to look over his shoulder constantly for bounty hunters who want to bring him back to Jabba. Because he’s desperate to be paid so he can pay Jabba, Han quickly agrees to ferry Luke and Ben to Alderaan, and thus, Han Solo became part of the Rebel Alliance! Even in the new Star Wars movie, at seventy years old, Han Solo owes people! Because Han owed lots of money, he couldn’t do the costly repairs to the Millennium Falcon, which ended up letting everyone down with its failed hyperdrive. Boba Fett was able to catch them all at Cloud City and with Vader’s help, Fett delivered a frozen Han Solo to Jabba—debt repaid.
On the other hand, Boba Fett the Bounty Hunter (and Han’s sworn enemy) lives a debt-free life. He saves his money because gangsters buy him drinks, he owns one suit which he repairs himself (he’s an excellent seamstress) and he is able to invest in technology to make him an even better and more profitable bounty hunter. The Lesson: Live within your means and sacrifice the finer things if you have to. Don’t do business with gangsters. Having debt makes you desperate and you may find yourself becoming a hero of the Rebel Alliance. If you have debt, repay it as quickly as you can by cutting expenses or by taking on a part-time job (but be careful it’s not a risky, crazy job!)
So, there you have it! Maybe a bit more detailed than you wanted it, but you know I can’t help myself when it comes to Star Wars.