Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Star Wars and the Role of Expectations in Everyday Life

Yesterday was a seminal event in the life of my family.  I have two boys and they have been positively captivated by the world of Star Wars as much as any generation ever has.  Some days it's literally all they talk about.

So it should come as no surprise that we would take them to see The Force Awakens.  It would have been special if for no other reason than it was a new Star Wars movie and they love Star Wars but it was also the first full length feature film they'd ever seen in the theater and that was the same for me in May of 1977.

I can still remember the color of the walls (olive green) when the curtain (they still had those) opened and the words, "Star Wars," traveled through the screen and into my heart.  That my fine sons were set to have a similar experience made me beam as I watched their faces once the lights went dark.

My giddiness at the beginning, however, was the direct antithesis of the level of frustration I felt at the end.  The intensity was identical but the emotions were exactly the opposite.  This isn't a movie review per se but, quite simply, I couldn't stand what they did with Luke.

As the final fight scene commenced between Kylo (Ben!) and Rey, I...seethed...because I realized there not enough of the movie remained to feature the hero of my childhood in any significant way.  I was so flat out mad that I didn't enjoy what was offered.

In some ways I feel justified to the extent that any of us are justified in expressing anger over something we had no say in making nor any risk in producing.  The lead up to the film deliberately left Luke out causing speculation to run rampant causing a feverish expectation on behalf of fans as to what role he might play after 30+ years of silence.

Now, the what people on the internet do isn't the responsibility of any writer, director, actor, etc., but I think Mr. Abrams knew what he was doing and I feel like he should have been more sensitive to the fans having shown sensitivity to their quirks throughout the rest of the movie.

That being said, this one's on me.  I allowed my expectations to influence my experience.

Granted, when do we not do that.  Is it really possible to approach anything expectation-less?  I'm not certain that it is.  Even when we say we don't have any expectations what we're really doing is choosing to expect whatever would disappoint us so that we might be pleasantly surprised instead.

With Star Wars though, I'd taken it to another level.  What I was hoping for was more than just a cinematic climax.

I believe that as a culture, in general, we are bored with a capital B.  Life is synonymous with monotony.  We get up, we do our thing, we go to bed and then we do it all over again.  In the meantime, we yearn for something, anything, that will help us escape.

Give me SOMETHING that I can cherish in the moment and relive long enough to last me until I can find my next fix and a fix is precisely that for which we are looking.  That's what I wanted from Star Wars.  Give. Me. My. Moment.

See, we live for emotional highs.  We do so because life is a numbing routine and the seconds that stand out are filled with far too many lows.  We don't ask for them.  They arrive at our doorstep as if hell had a UPS account with our names on it.  It's why we buy music, watch movies, read books.  It's why we paint and sculpt and act and play sports and hope to fall in love and stay there for the rest of our days.

The problem is none of that ever satisfies like we think it will.  Even if a movie is a home run it doesn't last as long as we'd like.  You hear a song and it speaks to your soul but only the first 10x.  Even the ecstasy we call love fades into what we wish we didn't call life.

What's the answer?  Is it to turn off our emotions or stop putting so much stock in them?  Do we simply need to find more stimulating careers filled with variety and travel?

I am reminded of the words of C.S. Lewis, "If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world."

We yearn for satisfaction because we were made to be satisfied by a relationship with our Creator.  Jesus said in the book of John, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)  God wants us to feel the enjoyment that we seek every place other than Him.

There is joy in knowing Jesus Christ.  He doesn't disappoint and He delivers on what He promises.

Seek Jesus.  Just like you yearn for new trailers and new releases and meeting new people.  Seek after Jesus.  Seek Him in His word.  Seek Him as you pray.  "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7)  

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