"I was no longer in original trilogy VHS playback mode - stuck in time watching the hopefulness of youth."
Stars Wars - our only hope.
In the late 1970s, I watched Star Wars for the first time. It was unlike anything I had seen.
Luke. Leia. Han. Chewbacca. C3PO. R2D2. Vader.
These screen icons ignited my imagination and followed my generation into our 20s, 30s and now 40s.
The release of the prequels and the latest trilogy kept the story alive introducing a new legion of fans to the Skywalker family.
In 2017, the 8th film in the saga was released - The Last Jedi and the writing was on Rey’s wall.
For the first time, the screen story and my life journey had strangely converged. Seeing Luke as an older man made me realise I was older too.
His death in The Last Jedi unsettled me.
Seeing Luke disappear from his robe prompted more than just cinematic mourning but real life grief.
Why was I grieving?
Stopped by the reflection of my ageing face in the mirror one day, I realised.
I was mourning the passing of time.
I was a fresh faced 7 year old when I watched A New Hope. I was a newly wed when Phantom Menace was released. It was joyful and humbling to watch Force Awakens with my then 8 year old sons.
Life moved forward. I was no longer in original trilogy VHS playback mode - stuck in time watching the hopefulness of youth.
VHS evolved into DVDs.
The internet happened.
DVDs evolved into streaming.
I grew up.
As I got older and prior to any other Star Wars add ons, I always had the comforting presence of the characters I loved not too far away. Our DVD player got a thrashing - Star Wars films on loop.
With Return of the Jedi in 1984, these characters became suspended in time.
As far as we knew, the Empire was gone and the universe was still celebrating.
The characters had become immortalised and frozen - forever youthful.
We’d watch the original trilogy before school, after school and weekends. We would lose ourselves in hours of play and scene re-enactment.
Unforgettable adventures with friends as we played with our Star Wars figures and spacecrafts for hours. Afternoons with the Jones boys up our street. Trading figures + cards. Jostling to see who would play the parts of Darth or Luke.
I’ve seen A New Hope over 200 times, the lines of each character embedded in my mind.
With the release of Force Awakens in 2015 though we saw the older version of the characters we love. The beautifully lived in and lined faces of Luke, Leia and Han.
We had to accept the schismatic emotions that time provokes.
Aroused by the curiosity of what happens next, yet nervously anticipating the unknown and inevitable.
Tomorrow’s release of Rise of Skywalker signals the end of an era.
Confronting to contemplate on many levels. It’s saying goodbye to the old and embracing the new.
When I watch the original trilogy, I’m back to feeling like the kid I was. Watching episodes 4, 5 + 6 makes me feel hopeful, carefree and comforted.
Star Wars has been a close friend. It’s been a companion. A teacher. Escapism. The characters formed my tribe.
Along the way, there have been many valuable life lessons learnt.
The lesson? Enjoy every step of the adventure. Create the adventure. Be the adventure. Have people around you to enjoy it with and be acutely aware that time will pass.
Time - it feels like only yesterday we first entered a galaxy a long time ago far, far away.
A lot happens in 40 years. Looking forward to the next 40 [and beyond].
May the Force be with you - always.