“It feels really new, but so remarkably familiar at the same time.” That is something that keeps coming to my mind after watching the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Even though I am not the biggest Star Wars fan out there (I am a fan of J.J. Abrams, though), I still notice the repeating themes underlying the plots of all its movies. It must be intentional, because if even I can notice it, there is no way those who have watched the prequels five times and have a Millennium Falcon model in their bedrooms would miss it.
In a way, it is a fascinating facet of storytelling from the writers’ part. It effortlessly integrates this episode into the massive, decades-old universe. It also confers nostalgic rewards for those who grew up with and have loved Star Wars.
Even when I notice those repetitions, I didn’t get bored watching it. Somehow they infused enough creativity into The Force Awakens that makes it feel fresh and engaging.
If we step back, it reminds us that great themes that carry the deepest truths — lessons that we really respond to and benefit our lives – most of them are often not new. Those timeless lessons have been around for millennia and repeated again and again, embedded in our stories.
So, perhaps, if we want to improve our lives; if we want to be physically healthier, or do well in our study, or deepen our spirituality; we may want to occasionally pause from hunting for novel and fancy solutions.
Maybe at a certain point, what we need is not looking for that magic dieting product, or that super-secret study technique, or that exotic form of meditation. Maybe what we need is to take a hard look at the old and the basics. And instead of getting bored with them, we need to find creative ways to make them feel fresh and engaging to us.
Anyway, here are three lessons that I have learned from the character arcs in the saga:
If you are a parent, a teacher or a mentor, you need to understand that no matter how much you love your children or your students, you cannot always protect them from going astray. It will crush your heart, but you should never blame yourself for it. You have to accept that only their own decisions will ultimately determine their destiny.
You may be on the egoic path of self-serving. You may only think about yourself most of the time. You barely care about how your actions affect other people, let alone the environment. Yet even if you have been like that for a long time, you can still decide to change. Once you decide to serve others – and you need courage for this, because you are going to face risks you would never have to face otherwise – life will become more meaningful for you, and for others who are impacted by you.
Where you are today is not necessarily where you will always be (Luke, Rey)
You may live a life that is the metaphorical equivalent of a desert planet — hostile, and filled with adversity. You may have no supporting parents, you only scrape by to survive, and you feel that your life is not going to amount to anything. But if your heart is at the right place, if you are sincere and kind, and if you are willing to put in the study and the work to refine your talent, your life will change. You will be beyond who you think you can ever be today.