My son graduated from Jedi Training Camp today.
This is not a joke.
His padwan name was made up from the first syllable of his first name, and the last syllable of his last name. Spelled Cal – On. Pronounced Khae Lon. Everytime his mom or I tried to say his name he would inevitably correct us, hitting alternately more or less gutteral, depending on how our attempt sounded…“it’s Khhaaae Lon.” We’d try again. “No, no, like this: Khhhaaaaae Lon.” Got it, bud.
There was a graduation ceremony. John Williams music in the background, each name announced for each padwan learner. They would walk to the front, be saluted by their peers, and one of three “Masters” would present a medal to each, and say, “Congratulations on becoming a Jedi Knight.”
We made a light saber. Master Stee Li gave each padwan a list of supplies to pick up from Home Depot, and we assembled it on our front steps. Then I took some time “shooting” at him with blasters of soccer balls, footballs, and tennis balls. He did the sound effects of his light saber swatting away the assault. As we played, Caleb peppered me with facts:
“Did you know Episode 4 is called A New Hope?”
“Did you know they filmed the Degabah scene in George Lucas’ swimming pool? They did. They poured in swamp water.”
“Did you know Star Wars came out on my birthday in 1977?”
“Did you know Stormtroopers are dramatic?”
My son, now Jedi, had a great week pod-racing, battling Darth Vader, re-enacting favorite scenes from all six movies, and in general Saving the Universe.
I was seven years old when the original Star Wars, Episode IV came out. Seven is a pivotal year for a boy striving to become a man, and Star Wars was a pivotal movie. I’d never been so keenly aware of the forces of a black-masked villain, so amazed at a brazen, incarcerated Princess, so conflicted at Han Solo’s dashing cynicism, and so totally caught up in the idealism of a boy from Tatooine bold and stupid enough to believe that he was created to make a difference.
I saw the movie 27 times on the big screen. No joke. This was before the days of the VCR, and I remember begging my mom, and virtually anyone with a driver’s license to take us, my brother and I, to a galaxy far, far away. When the original score first trumpets through the movie house, and the words, larger than the screen, epic in scope, appear in glorious conjunction, this seven year old soul was transported into the universe where the meager forces of good stood in open rebellion to the totalitarian force of evil, where hope for victory was a fool’s hope, a selfless glory, an impossible dream, and yet as the eu-catastrophe is revealed in it’s folly, as the X-wings are picked off one by one in the battle of Yavin, as the Death Star charges itself in preparation to destroy yet another planet, that same boy from the desert, reckless and brash, leans into God, or about as much of God as I knew, and deploys the bomb that liberates the universe.
Consciously or unconsciously, I rate every movie I’ve ever seen against it.
More than anything else, more than the action, more than the size and score, more than the revolutionary special effects (and I say that affectionately…the movie revolutionized so many things about science fiction on screen)…above the call of the wookie, above the cheer of the victorious rebels and the reward of the faithful, what haunted me most about the film was the powerful sense of destiny calling.
Skywalker pauses to take in two suns in the sunset, brooding, stirred with a divine discontent and a message hidden in a droid that he can just decipher. These are the tiny pebbles rolling that set off an avalanche, and the fate of the universe hangs in the balance. Destiny calls to each of us in the same way (minus the droid). Destiny sweeps us off our feet, if we’re willing to leave the known, the everyday, the expected, and embrace the fact that we were born to make a difference. Lucas launched my imagination through the heavens and called deeply to my spirit, whispering words of heroism, significance, and rebellion.
Walking out of the dark theater, blinking in the summer sunlight of ’77, I was bold and stupid enough to believe that I could change the world. Fact is, I still do.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: My son graduated from Jedi Training Camp today.
And I am totally jealous.