I will always remember the first time one of my teachers in preschool called me Skywalker when I was a little boy. Although what I don’t remember is when or exactly how I became a fan of Star Wars. I’ve just always seemed to love it ever since I can remember. From my earliest, happiest childhood memories, I have always followed the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and others. Even though I wasn’t as fortunate to see the original Star Wars movie back in 1977 (like both of my parents did), something just draws me to Star Wars. I can’t quite put my finger on it though.
I think as a kid what drew me to Star Wars was the sense of adventure. What wide-eyed kid didn’t dream of flying an X-Wing, shooting down TIE Fighters and saving the day? Plus the countless worlds and creatures just blew my mind. All these years later, I still can’t wrap my mind around how huge the Star Wars universe is. All of this came from one man’s mind. Thank God for George Lucas!
My mom always would tell me how her little brother, my uncle Scott had all the Star Wars toys when the original trilogy first came out. I think he had a bigger collection than I did, although I certainly had plenty of toys of my own! A green lightsaber, X-Wing, A-Wing, mini versions of the Y-Wing and B-Wing, and a HEAVY Millennium Falcon were definitely a few of the toys I can remember.
Not to mention I played quite a few of the games growing up, like X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Dark Forces, and Rebel Assault II. I remember first playing X-Wing on the computer, and thinking it was the coolest thing ever! The missions allowed the player to fly several ships, and gave a cockpit view. Pretty cool for early 90s gaming! Sure, it probably looks and sounds cheesy now. But back in 1993 when it first came out, it was the first Star Wars flight simulator of its kind! I remember hogging the computer, and begging Mom and Pop to use it, so I could play this thing. Check out the intro!
Recognizing deeper themes within Star Wars
As I’ve gotten older though, I think I appreciate Star Wars more for the mythology, deeper themes, and nostalgia. As a little kid, I could not have grasped the “Skywalker Saga” or the story of Anakin Skywalker, and what it meant to Star Wars as a whole. Even though Anakin eventually became Darth Vader, he is still the central, messianic figure of the whole thing. He fell to the dark side, but through the love he had for his son, Luke, he eventually fulfilled the Jedi prophecy by sacrificing himself and destroying the Emperor, allowing good to ultimately triumph over evil.
That should’ve been the end of the story. I do not think the sequel trilogy was necessary. Things should’ve ended with Return of the Jedi (Episode VI). Especially since I believe the story in the sequels could’ve been told much, much better. But that’s another story for another time and another blog post 😉
But as an adult, I’ve really come to appreciate the philosophical themes of Star Wars, and watching how the Jedi, and their ancient enemies, the Sith, operate. I see the Jedi as like warrior monks, and the Sith as completely given over to their passion and power. To me, these two extremes represent two ways of life, but they both miss the mark. The Jedi practice the light side of the Force, but they don’t acknowledge and study the dark side to understand how it works, because they’re too scared that they’ll be sucked into it. On the other side of the same coin, the Sith give into their passionate emotions (fear, anger, hate, pain), but they don’t practice any self-discipline or restraint.
Even though these are obviously fictional things, they remind me of the approaches people might take to how they live life in the real world, and show me what NOT to do. On one side, there are people who attempt to live life in an unrealistic, idealized way like the Jedi do in the prequel trilogy. A sunshine and rainbows approach I suppose. Their hearts are in the right place, and they are genuinely good people. But they deny that the darkness exists, and try their best to avoid having to go through the darker times in life.
On the other side, there are people for whom nothing is off limits. They go with their passion, emotion and heart 100% of the time like the Sith, which isn’t always with good intentions. Sometimes the intentions are far from noble or good. Sometimes they’re downright selfish and evil. But living like this sometimes gets people into serious trouble.
In order to fully embrace the human experience, we must be willing to fully understand both the good and the bad within life, while aiming to stay on the right path. Even while there is light and darkness within all of us. There are characters within Star Wars who see life like this. They are called Gray Jedi, and they study both the light and dark sides of the Force. The Jedi Code, Gray Jedi Code, and Sith Code are all pretty interesting too!
Star Wars Audiobooks
Fairly recently, I’ve also really gotten into Star Wars audiobooks. I finished Heir to the Jedi, and I’m currently in the middle of Dooku: Jedi Lost. I’ve lost count of how many Star Wars books are on Libby (my app), but there is something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for nonstop action and adventure, or something deeper, I’d venture to say there are at least 100+ books on there. Easily. I don’t know how long it would take me to read or listen to them all, but I’ve definitely enjoyed the ones I’ve checked out.
Heir to the Jedi is set almost immediately after the original Star Wars film. Luke Skywalker is still very young, and riding high from blowing up the Death Star and becoming a hero to billions of people. But he is soon sent on another daring mission: opening up a supply line DEEP in Imperial territory in order for the Rebel Alliance to smuggle weapons to their troops. He soon realizes how key a successful mission is to achieving total victory over the Empire.
He grows up a lot both as a freedom fighter, as well as his training in the Force. The character arc of Luke is really well written in this book. Plus it is one of the only Star Wars books told entirely from Luke’s point of view. We hear his thoughts on his mission, missing Obi-Wan since he died in the original film, his curiosity about the Force, and his budding romantic attraction to his mission partner Nakari Kelen. He slowly grows attached to her through their shared experiences. This is definitely a classic Star Wars story full of action!
Dooku: Jedi Lost, definitely has its share of action. But its focus is on showing how Count Dooku, one of the main villains of the prequels (played by the late Sir Christopher Lee), fell to the dark side in spite of being a very gifted Jedi trained by Yoda himself. I’m more than halfway through, and I can already see Dooku starting to doubt his Jedi path. He bucks his training at certain points, feeling like Yoda and the other Jedi masters are ignorant of the growing darkness that surrounds them.
Plus he holds a lot of deep-seeded anger at a number of people in his life. His father hates the Jedi and thinks he’s a freak because he has Force powers. He doesn’t claim Dooku as his son. Dooku is also angry at the Jedi Order for commanding him to cut all contact with his sister, Jenza, whom he loves and cares for deeply. The Jedi are not allowed to have emotional attachments of any kind. None. Which is why they’re often taken from their families as babies or very small children by the Jedi, before they can really form emotional attachments with anyone. I find myself sympathizing with Dooku here. If I were in Dooku’s shoes, and reunited with a long-lost family member, and somebody told me to cut off all contact with them, I’d rebel against them too!
So far it’s been a great book though. Cavan Scott does a great job of showing how Dooku struggles to follow the Jedi code, while he also tries to follow his heart and be a good man. I definitely see a little bit of myself in Dooku. What people teach or dictate is not always right. One must sometimes follow one’s heart. Dogma be damned.
What’s so great about Star Wars?
Some may scoff at Star Wars as being a nerdy thing. But there is a reason BILLIONS of people love it passionately. It’s a classic story of good vs. evil, but set across a HUGE galaxy and timespan that is so much fun to explore! However, where I think it touches people the most, is that they may see themselves in the characters. Some may identify with Han Solo if they are adventurous, brash, confident and looking for a good time. Women and girls may identify with Princess Leia (and her mother Padme) because the characters are independent, strong women who stick to their morals and convictions in the face of overwhelming evil or political pressure. They do the right thing no matter what the cost is to them. I, along with probably many others, identify with Luke Skywalker.
I identify with Luke the most because we share the same name. We are also both restless farmboys who are impatient, waiting for the next big break in our lives to happen. And we both try to do the right thing, and see the good in everyone regardless of who they are.
Regardless if you’re a fan of Star Wars or not, there is always room for everyone in the Galaxy Far, Far Away! 🙂