I was 7 when I first saw “Star Wars.”
I think I saw it at least 7 times in the months after it was released.
For years, I chose “Princess Leia” as my Halloween costume (which thankfully at least kept overall costume costs low in our household).
In the interim months and years, my brother and I compiled a massive collection of closely guarded action figures, stored carefully away in our own separate black “Darth Vader” carrying cases.
Why? What was the obsession? Why did I have Luke Skywalker posters on my wall instead of Duran Duran?
In a phrase – The Force.
Ohhhhh how I wanted it.
In hindsight, The Force may have actually been my first formal introduction to the concept of “faith”….years before I would learn about monks, meditation and the like.
On that note, it seems a rather too fortuitous coincidence that the latest movie episode of Star Wars came out one day before my 45th birthday (December 19, 2015) and less than two weeks before January 1, 2016, which kicked off my Year of Having Faith.
Perhaps I thought that if I just kept watching the movies and collecting the action figures, The Force would become real, decide it liked me and show me where I could find my own personal Yoda.
On that note, perhaps The Force was also my first real taste of the power of mentoring (about which this blog and, basically, everything else I do is based).
Maybe the relationship my youthful self envied – the bond between Luke and his teachers, Ben and Yoda – was what has driven me for so many years to seek out mentors of my own.
I also remember how angry I was when after that very first viewing of the original Star Wars.
I felt so CHEATED. I remember thinking, “Why does all the best stuff – the stuff I really, really NEED – only exist in movies?”
I was really mad – mad enough to convince my quite frugal parents to endure frequent repeat viewings of each new Star Wars movie in turn – and each time I would fall into the fantasy world of the characters and their quest only to be rudely awakened approximately 120 minutes later by those always hateful ending credits.
I was able to finally see the brand new Star Wars movie this past weekend.
It was so great to see such a broad mix of old favorite and new intriguing characters. The action was faster and the soundtrack much louder (so much so that a certain set of irritable and fatigued aging ears insisted on wearing my earplugs after about the first 10 minutes).
But the feeling was the same. The Force is something worth having faith in. The Force is trustworthy. The Force is a powerful ally. The Force is a mentor with its own private reasons for choosing whom it chooses.
And I still want it.
But today I am not so angry anymore. And I no longer feel so cheated. In fact, in some ways I feel like I have found a workable version of The Force – one that doesn’t require lightsabers, long capes or years of athletic training on dark swampy planets.
But it does require some control over the mind – at least enough to permit the possibility for meditation to occur.
It does require persistence, and patience.
And it also seems to require, well….faith.
In fact, it was while watching the new Star Wars this past weekend that I finally began to realize just how heavily the characters’ ability to access and use The Force (whether they happen to fall towards the Light or the Dark Side of that spectrum) depends on faith.
There is also lots of similar-sounding conversation about hope, or lack thereof.
The morning after I saw the new Star Wars film, I decided to meditate on my 2016 intention, “Have Faith.”
My mind jumped in for another rousing round of its usual protestations.
But then something deeper, something that felt more wise and seasoned than any mind ever could be, interrupted my mind’s familiar dialogue and said, firmly, “Have Faith in FAITH.”
My mind was so intrigued by this idea that it stopped complaining and instead started mulling over whether faith itself could be something to have faith in.
It is still mulling, in fact….
Today’s Takeaway: What do you think? Is “faith” a verb – an action to be taken for its own sake? Or is it a noun – something that exists only in relation to something else, a goal, a vision, a passion, a destination? Or could it perhaps be both, or neither?