I started crying while I was in the coffee shop in Vietnam Tuesday afternoon. Well, kind of.
The original Star Wars (Episode 4) was on TV. It was the last 15 minutes. The climax. The final battle when Luke Skywalker blows up the Death Star.
I couldn’t help but get a little teary eyed when Han Solo save Luke from Darth Vader with a surprise attack. I couldn’t help but get a chill through my body, like when you hear a song you love. Stars Wars was the first movie I ever remember watching. I was 5 or 6 years old. I was glued to the TV. I was mesmerized by the story and the characters.
I still am today. After watching, I thought about my childhood memories from the movie, the funny scenes, the dramatic scenes and also the weird noises I made impersonating an alien language, an ewok or Darth Vader’s voice.
Then I thought about 3 life lessons to live by that Star Wars has given me:
1. Letting go of ego – Han Solo battles his ego throughout the movie. He’s an arrogant smuggler who only cares about money and individual rewards. I can relate to this. In my 20’s all I cared about was the number in my bank account. Even more, I craved status, recognition and popularity among my friends and peers in business.
Deep down, Han Solo is a good guy. He constantly struggled internally whether to save his own neck, or to continue helping the rebels’ cause to defeat evil. Ultimately, after deserting, he lets his ego go and comes back just in time to save Luke from Vader so Luke can blow up the death star.
2. Living for a cause bigger than myself – This is closely linked to letting go of the ego. When Han released his selfish needs for rewards and riches, he made a choice to live for something bigger than himself. He risked his life for the rebellion and to defeat evil.
Luke Skywalker made the same choice. When he received the an urgent message from Princess Leia, his mission became to help her. That mission lead him on a journey to become a Jedi knight, a mission bigger than himself.
I get so caught up in everyday life. How can I get “x” to be happy? How can I learn “y” to feel more intelligent? How can “x + y” make me more fulfilled? In this selfish minutiae, I lose sight of living for a bigger cause than myself, a deeper cause than myself.
Yet, whenever I do align myself with a bigger cause, without fail, I feel energized and better about life. For me, it comes down to connecting with and helping others.
I try do this through my writing. I also try do this with friends and acquaintances back home, as well as people I meet traveling. I connect with them, and this helps me connect with a deeper part of myself. The gratitude I feel and write down each day feels more real.
So everyday, I will try to blow up the death star. To remember there are bigger causes out there than my own ego.
3. The hero’s journey is something we’re all on – Like Luke and Han, we all have some kind of journey we are on. We battle a fear, demon’s from the past, a career challenge, a quarter or midlife crisis. We want to grow and better ourselves in some way. Each person is different and so is the way their journey manifests.
Whenever I’ve stepped into an unknown journey I’ve always been scared. However, I’ve always been amused by how much my mind created those illusions, unnecessary fear. Things never turned out to be as scary as I thought.
Also, you will get help along the way (supernatural aid as writer of the hero’s journey, Joseph Campbell calls it, he’s also a close friend of George Lucas). You will find friends and mentors to guide you and you will create genuine relationships as you go on your journey.
This has happened for me. Not all the time, not smoothly, and not immediately. Whenever I made a decision to move forward with an open mind to see things through, more times than not, things worked out.
And when they didn’t, I realized that’s not so bad either. I learned. I evolved.
The Universe, like The Force will be with you when you make the decision to live bigger than yourself.