Facing our Mortality via Star Wars

You literally won’t understand a word I am saying in this post, unless you read this one first. Yeah, I know, sounds like homework. Get over yourselves and read it. I’ll try and summarize it for you, but will fail miserably. Basically what Mike Ryan was saying was that Star Wars isn’t completely knowable anymore. It was yesterday, but not tomorrow. So basically, while there was one movie, or heck, even three movies… it was knowable. We could know how it started and how it ended. When there were six movies… ok. We knew it’s beginning middle and end. But now that we are opening up on this larger story going forward, completely helmed by the Disney juggernaut, we can’t know the story completely anymore. And then, the next thing we know it, there are 23 movies, with 14 more in development right behind it.

And so we have this problem with our childhoods now. We knew this thing. It was consumable and knowable. And now, our mortality is becoming an issue all of a sudden… again.

I remember when the prequels were coming out, I would wonder about my own mortality and whether I would make it to the release of the next movie, or even the third movie and if I would die between now and then. Seems like such a geek response… and yet, its a short to mid-term timeline that makes you consider your limits. If you aren’t a Star Wars fan, consider your daughter’s graduation from high school. Or her wedding maybe? It’s something you don’t think about, but if you force yourself to, you can begin to wonder the likelihood of your surviving until then.

Think about it, Harrison Ford has his leg slammed in the Millennium Falcon’s door. And he also crash landed his plane on a golf course… mortality is not an insignificant thing when it comes to movie making… and the risks of life. And yet pondering our own mortality is not a thing we normally want to do, or will even do willingly. So I figured I’d chat with Mike a little bit over Twitter about the larger problem:

And there you have it. “Too depressing.” And like that, the door is closed. Fascinating really how we shy away from thoughts about meaning and purpose. Or depressing questions about our longevity… or the lack of longevity, our finiteness. And yet, one of the most important parts of Mike’s piece is his connection back to a friend who saw episode one, but wasn’t there to see ep2 or 3. Which is obviously terrible. And yet, now, simultaneously inevitable for all of us. We have seen one through six so far… and soon we will have seen one through seven (keep those fingers crossed). But what about eight? Nine?! We ace those, great. But now what about 18? There will come a time when we won’t be able to keep up with the movies that Disney will continue to put out.

Put the question another way… I am intrigued with human innovation. Cars will begin to be self driving. The Tesla uber mode has half way brought us there already. But Google’s new nirvana of self driving automobiles? That’s still years and years out. Will I be there to see that day? Will I be stricken by a plague between now and then? Or stricken by an on-coming car? Both are very real possibilities (one, way more so than the other).

There will always be something that we will be left out of when we die. Possibly the most obvious statement I’ve ever made, and yet, we don’t really consider it because we are too depressed by the thought. But if we allow ourselves to go there, as opposed to avoiding it, we can realistically grapple with the larger purpose and meaning in life that we generally avoid too. Is there purpose? Is there meaning? Is it all an accident? Do I have a place? Why am I here? But in the face of zero answers, it’s safer to avoid the questions all together.

I too had a friend that was a Star Wars fan who has passed away and who, as a result, missed out on Star Wars movies. Only difference? My friend had only seen one of the movies, Star Wars A New Hope, before he passed away at the age of 12. And when he died he had his arms raised to God, whom he said he saw very clearly. When grappling with the questions of the meaning of life it’s difficult to do so without coming off sounding flippant, or worse, pedantic. But so many people when they have these questions about the larger meaning of life, about death, and about the larger meaning of it all… they shove it in a dark cabinet somewhere because they don’t want to ponder it. It’s too much to deal with.

But if we only have one life to live… shouldn’t we grapple with it? Isn’t that a better life lived? At the end of the day. So all that to say, thanks Lucas, for giving me a way to measure the passing of my life in a meaningful way so as to give me perspective on the more important things in this life.

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