It was 1980 in Century City. I was 10 years old waiting in a line that did not seem to end with my grandma (now 104). We waited for two hours to see the Empire Strikes Back. There was a buzz in the air that I couldn’t explain but could feel. It was three years after the world was introduced to the Force, the Jedi, and the evil empire. At last we were in our seats. I don’t remember if there were coming attractions. However, I remember like it was yesterday, the sound of the orchestra moving through my body as the words rolled up the screen and into the galaxy. I read as fast as I could and immediately felt like I was in a land far, far away.
It is 2015 and I am 45. I am in a theater with my adolescent kids who were raised on Star Wars. We watched all six movies together several times. We have put together virtually every Star Wars Lego made. We have “real” light sabers and the Millennium Falcon. We don’t wait in line this time. We order our Star Wars: The Force Awakens tickets online and see the movie a few days after the opening. After what seems like thirty minutes of previews (enough already!), it starts. The orchestra booms, the original font moves through space and I am ten again and every other age I have been since, when I hear the music and think about Yoda, Obi-Wan, Luke, Vader, R2D2, C3PO, Chewy, and Han.
Almost 40 years later, the story of Star Wars is as strong as ever. The messages are timeless. Daily, we are confronted with good and evil. Daily, we have choices with how to live and who and what to follow. And daily, we can accept or ignore we are all connected and there is a force that exists among us. As Obi Wan explains to Luke, “The force is what gives a Jedi his powers. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us and binds the galaxy together.” All too often people and nations are choosing war over peace and hate over love.
I would like to share the wisdom given to us by one of our greatest teachers—Jedi Master Yoda with hopes of ushering in both inner peace and peace among us in the New Year:
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
Much of our discontent and emotional discomfort comes from attachment to objects and outcomes. When we attach to an outcome, we need things to happen the way we want them to happen so we do not get upset. Rather, we must accept that things will occur as they do. We must learn to be open to what comes and not fear what is to be. When we are open to what is, we feel at peace with what occurs since we do not have preconceived expectations.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Fear is the monster that controls how we think and feel, and ultimately act. Fear makes us avoid life and respond in ways that are not our natural state of being. When we fear others or objects, we often develop an aversion (or hate) towards them as a way to feel in control and powerful. Fear, anger, and hate are strong emotions that keep us from feeling and showing love. We must not let fear control us. We must choose love over fear. With love and kindness comes compassion. With compassion comes peace.
“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”
We must examine our thoughts and feelings, particularly our fear. Fear is powerful, especially when we don’t understand what we fear. By examining what we fear and why we fear what we do, we can take steps toward our fear. Labeling our fear is the first step of increasing awareness. With increased awareness we can choose to detach from our fear and choose to live with inner peace.
“Difficult to see, always in motion is the future.”
Most of us naturally think about the future which often leads to worry and fear, and takes us away from living in the present. The key to living a purposeful and intentional life resides in the present moment. The past is gone and the future has yet to come. Live in the present and choose your words and actions intentionally.
While the Jedi can feel the force more strongly than others, they do so through training and purposely practicing feeling, noticing, and using the force for good. Everyone can learn to feel and respect the force. It is all around us and it binds us together. We are connected to everything—all living creatures, natural elements, our ancestors, our children, and our future grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In order for us to create a healthy world, we must all commit to using the force for good, and overcoming fear and hate with love. We will all face challenges in 2016 and we can choose the good side of the force while being aware of our connection to everything. As I write in my Darth Vader sweats and Yoda socks, I can feel the force running through me. We can all be Jedi warriors. We can choose to be at one with the Force. We can choose love over hate and fear. We can choose peace within and among each other.
This article originally ran in the Huffington Post. Image courtesy of Lucasfilm.