As mentioned in my previous post, I have been visited by my bitter sweet friend, Nostalgia this holiday season. Well folks, it’s safe to say she’s overstaying her welcome in a big way. She was front and center with Harrison and I as we went to see the latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. (Warning: there is spoiler information about the movie if you continue reading)
Harrison and I have always been huge Star Wars fans and I’ve done my best to educate him on all things; Luke, Han, Yoda, Vader and The Force. To give you a little background, I’m a 47-year-old woman that grew up in the era of the original movie trilogy: Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. If I’m honest, my love of sci-fi and all things Star Wars was influenced by my oldest brother, Trainor. When the original Star Wars was released in 1980, my family saw the movie at-least to ten times to appease my brother. It was no joke, in my childhood home saying, “May the force be with you” was matched only by “Live long and prosper”. Suffice to say, we were official sci-fi junkies.
As I entered the theatre I could feel the nostalgic pangs begin, she was right there next to me wistfully pulling me into the comfort of the past. Yet, as the movie begins I realize we are in for something different. The Last Jedi starts out where The Force Awakens left off- Rey finds Luke cloaked and disheveled on a deserted island – she gallantly hands him his mythic light saber only to see him dismissively toss it away as if he were ridding himself of any remaining memories of his past. It’s here when it hit me. This movie will not be about remaining in the comfort and safety of the past; it’s about embracing the uncertainty of the future. Hmm… this seems to be my theme of late.
Letting go of the past is in fact the major theme of the movie, and this series is following suit by shifting focus to the new generation and encouraging older fans (me) to let go and embrace what’s next. I have to admit as a Star Wars junkie I’m conflicted. I tend to get hung up on the earlier characters, symbols and story lines. I find myself wanting more of my old friends – R2-D2, Chewie, Yoda, Luke etc… Who wouldn’t? It feels comforting, safe, familiar. I’m still not fully recovered from the fictional death of Han Solo in The Force Awakens, nor can I wrap my heart and brain around the tragic real-life loss of Carrie Fisher. As I watched her perform her final appearance as Princess Leia, I fought back tears fully aware of the fragility of life and nothing truly lasts forever. And, to make matters worse, as soon as the movie delivered the nostalgia I was so longing for, it would cruelly yank it back as if to say, ‘Elaine, stay focused on what lies ahead’. The Yoda scene, for example, nimbly side-steps the nostalgia swamp by having Yoda advocate for moving on from the past. “We are,” he says, “what they grow beyond.” He might as well have been an older Star Wars fan talking about the new. After that scene, Harrison looked over at me as if to know I would be emotional. A Yoda appearance is almost too much to bear. Tears were shed as I started to truly get the message.
Yet, while it’s always tough putting away the old toys, the thing is, the new ones are pretty cool, too. As we watch our children’s shelves fill up with the new faces of Rey, Finn and BB-8 we can find comfort in knowing Leia, Han and Luke sparked their creation. The movie was a gateway for me- it’s propelling me forward into 2018 with a new sense of what must happen. It allowed me to grieve the past, grieve change, grieve the idea that things don’t and most certainly won’t stay the same, yet it inspired me too. Just as Harrison must embark on his new life journey of entering college, I too must embrace what’s next for me. When we view nostalgia as something we can shape or renew, we’re empowered to evolve the past into something richer, something that invites us to embrace the creativity and innovation of what’s next.
Goodbye Nostalgia… I’ll look forward to our next visit. Next time let’s not spend too much time fretting over days past, for it’s in the present where we can become safely lost in a galaxy far, far away…
May the force be with you in 2018.