Star Wars Holds a Mirror to Midlife

Long Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away …

So, the new Star Wars, have you seen it? Did you see the original? Maybe even in the theater back in the day? I recently saw The Force Awakens with my husband and our two teenagers and let me tell you, it gave me ALL the feels, as the kids say. For lots of reasons, really.

I mean, Poe and Finn are obviously adorable, and Rey is a thrilling heroine and it was an unfettered joy to see all the throwbacks and hear the soundtrack that was so visceral a part of my youth. What really got to me though, was the kinship I felt with the original characters. It was like meeting up with dear old friends the way I remember my mom and my aunts and uncles doing – clearly relishing the connection and reconnection.

It was poignantly gratifying to see and hear the passage of years in their faces and voices and to recognize the deeply grooved and well-earned wisdom of time and toil, of loss, and of parenting most of all. I could almost forget that these were actors and characters, performing parts written and directed by others. The depth of feeling conveyed was clearly a product of love.

My connection to Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie is such that it actually took me a while to realize they weren’t the main characters of the movie! Watching those old cinematic friends, I found myself commiserating over the loss of parents, the estrangement of spouses and siblings, and the terror of watching children grow to young adults and venture out into questionable waters.

My connection to Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie is such that it actually took me a while to realize they weren’t the main characters of the movie

It would be no exaggeration to say that parenting has been the defining event of my life. I love to drive and getting my first car caused an utter sea-change in the way I defined myself. Watersheds also were going away to college, my first apartment, first real job, and getting married. But becoming a parent was the biggest of big deals.

The character-building, grit-requiring, un-walk-away-able Rubicon that could not be uncrossed. Sandwich generation parenting, also, has been an entirely new experience and I crossed another melancholy milestone when my mom passed away last year. These life events and the changes they put a person through are what strengthen, mellow, and enrich the middleton’s experience. Star Wars: The Force Awakens puts us in the unique position to revisit pivotal characters from our youth and commiserate with them with knowing eyes and hearts.

Iconic images of a generation
Iconic images of a generation

I loved the original three Star Wars movies, and although I did try to share them with my kids a few years back, they failed to impress 21st century eyes and minds. Now that they have seen and enjoyed this newest installment, my teens have found a curiosity and tolerance toward those dated and beloved originals.

I can only say kudos to all those involved in The Force Awakens and I can hardly wait to see what the franchise does next. I hope you will see and enjoy these movies for yourself!

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