As I type this, Star Wars Celebration VII is exactly one month away. I attended my first Celebration in 2007: CIV and, at the time, I honestly thought it would be a “once in a lifetime” trip. Never in a million years did I expect to be going to my THIRD Star Wars Celebration! For those of you who have never been to a Star Wars Celebration, it is truly like nothing else you will ever experience, and I sincerely hope that each and every one of you will have the opportunity at some point.
Some people say that once you go to a con, they’re all alike. Although the exhibit halls and autograph rows are somewhat the same, each experience has been vastly different for me. In large part this is due to WHEN and with WHOM I have attended (or will attend) each, and I have experienced three very distinctive milestones in my life for each of these Celebrations.
I have learned some extremely poignant life-lessons from each Celebration experience, and from Star Wars as a whole, but I’ve narrowed things down to my Top 8:
1.) You Only Live Once: I have had my share of near-death experiences. Without going into a lot of detail, my most recent was in March of 2006. I suffered a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage. I spent eight days in ICU, and some time thereafter in physical therapy, just learning to “be me” again. At the time, my boys were 3 and 5. I had been “away” from Star Wars for a number of years. One of the things that helped me in my “journey back to me” was playing my flute to Star Wars sheet music. It helped me regulate my breathing. Star Wars had always been part of who I was, and I found it playing a large part in rebuilding myself, and taking hold of the essence of life once again.
Not soon thereafter, I found the Hyperspace Blogs on the old Star Wars site. I forged some amazing bonds through that cyberspace portal, and ended up meeting a few of those incredible women in person. I decided to make my first Celebration journey the following year with two of them. I had to do A LOT of maneuvering to make the voyage happen, but I decided to do it. Life is precious and short. I’m so glad I did, because the rest of my life has been greatly affected by my first Celebration experience!
2.) The more we think people are different, the more we’re really the same: I knew there were other Star Wars fans out there. Duh. However, meeting people “like me” through blogging, and eventually at CIV, was almost overwhelming. I am so fortunate to have made connections with fans – literally – all over the globe! Connections I would never have made, and been able to keep, if it weren’t for these cons. It also made me realize that although we all hail from different upbringings, religions, career paths, ages and personalities, we all have a love for something that nurtures our souls. If Star Wars can teach us that, it must be true!
…This also brings me to my next life-lesson:
3.) We are all part of something bigger than ourselves: Sometimes, it’s so easy to get caught up in OUR lives, OUR little world, OUR problems…but what CIV taught me (in a good way), is that we are all interconnected in some way. It could be the thinnest of threads, or the strongest of bonds. One thing specifically that helped me come to this conclusion was at CIV, when we were all asked to sign the “30th Birthday Card” for Star Wars. Some people just signed their names, and others wrote anecdotes. Some wrote heartfelt messages about how Star Wars has touched or changed their lives. I was one of those people. It was truly incredible to me to read what others had written. I added my own with a sense of awe, pride and unspoken camaraderie with those who had gone before me.
4.) It’s important to step outside your comfort zone once in a while: Okay, so this one was not a big stretch for me…at all. I’m a big ham. I don’t mind being onstage, meeting new people (including celebrities), or “putting myself out there.” But what I realized was that there are A LOT of people who become paralyzed at the thought of doing any of those things. I witnessed so many fellow fans at these cons who literally blossomed in the way they may not have otherwise – who finally found their “voice,” be it through cosplay, getting the nerve to meet a particular celebrity, dancing in the dark with a lightsaber, or getting onstage to try belly dancing! These cons allow people to drop their guard and be who they want to be. My hope for them is that bravery somehow follows them back to their everyday lives.
5.) Waiting in lines is a journey of the soul: The picture below may just look like yet another Fangirl photo from any random con in any random time or city…It’s not even about the picture, so much as what happened when it was taken: My friends and I were waiting in line to meet Carrie Fisher. One of the “line guards”, as we called them, was a gentleman costumed as a Stormtrooper. We struck up a conversation with him, and he told us something I’ll NEVER forget: “This line isn’t about what happens “up there.” It’s about the journey that takes you there.” I was so profoundly affected by what he said, that it has become one of my life’s mantras, and I have never again complained about having to wait in a long line, or anything else, for that matter! It helped me realize that we need to slow down and enjoy the experience of life. We need to stop saying to ourselves “I HAVE to…do this or that.” Instead we should be saying “I GET to…“!
At CVI, I had the honor of being able to take my whole family to experience what Celebration really is. I shared that Stormtrooper’s message with my own sons, as we waited to enter the Main Hall on the first day. We actually did have a lot of adventures! We met Anthony Daniels, lots of fans from all over the world, and got to be silly with “Palpy” from Robot Chicken. Life is full of waiting, and hopefully my sons now know that sometimes it’s what happens WHILE you wait that can change your life for the better, and allow the sweetest memories to be made.
6.) Star Wars really IS forever (and other things should be, too!) : I have often emphasized the importance of “passing the baton” to the next generation. I feel that it is imperative that we teach our youngsters the traditions, rituals, and skills we have learned. It’s the only way to ensure certain practices will live on. At Celebration IV, I was SO struck by this little boy (see below). It hit my heart with such force that tears swelled in my eyes and it really did take my breath away. I vowed at that moment to teach my boys everything and anything I could, whether about me, our heritage… no matter what the subject area. It also encourages a personal understanding in children of who they are, and fosters a sense of positive self-esteem for the future. Legacy is incredibly important. Star Wars taught me that.
7.) Always be gracious, no matter what: Star Wars celebrities and cosplayers are the BEST in the world. Not to be judgmental, but I’ve met some real stuck-up, half-witted so-called “celebrities” in other genres. I’ve never met anyone at a Star Wars Celebration that was less than genuinely gracious. Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), made you feel like you were the only one in the autograph hall. Matthew Wood (General Grievous) showered my someday-aspiring-sound editor-son with advice and friendliness. Even Amy Allen (Aayla Secura), struck up a conversation with me over the sinks in the restroom at CIV! I am also SO appreciative of the patience the cosplayers have for people who want to take pictures with them. Obviously, it’s the nature of the beast, but I imagine it gets pretty old being stopped every 10 feet to be asked to pose for a photo. At CVI, my youngest son had been desperately hoping to find his idol, Clone Commando Sev. On day two, his hunt was successful, and this cosplayer made my son incredibly happy.
These are people who are in the “big leagues” of their craft, yet never look down their noses at their fans. It reminds me of the saying: “Be nice to people on your way to the top, because you never know who you’re going to need on the way back down.” Never forget those who have lifted you up, encouraged you, or given you a chance for greatness.
8.) It’s okay to grow older. Never, ever grow up: Age has always been just a number to me, and it truly irks me when people talk about “getting old.” Yes, I’m 44. I have aches and pains sometimes, I’m starting to notice fine lines, strange spots, grey hair and am feeling the effects of gravity. This will not stop me from enjoying being youthful. Staying young at heart keeps our spirits young. It’s okay to be goofy, to look silly, to take a chance and to squee. Don’t care what other people say or think. Don’t care when they point and look at you with a condescending glance. Play! Play your heart out. At the end of the day, your physical self may be exhausted, but your soul will thank you…
I sincerely hope each and every one of you gets to experience Celebration as I have. I know I’ll be making new memories, and gaining even more life-lessons as I attend Celebration VII, just one month from today! This year, I will have the added layer of going into the experience knowing SO many fellow fans. I thank Dan and Cory at Coffee With Kenobi, for giving me this wonderful opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings with all of you, and I hope to meet some of you in April! If you recognize me, please stop me and say hello!
As always, your comments and questions are welcome!
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Jay Krebs has been blogging about Star Wars since 2006. In addition to Coffee With Kenobi, she has been a contributor to Star Wars KidsCast. Jay is also a member of Star Wars in the Classroom, serving as Rogue 7. Jay also volunteers at local libraries, transforming into Queen Amidala for various Star Wars events. She is a wife of 19 years, a mom with boys ages 15 and 13, and a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher of 22 years. She has a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction, and hopes to one day run a half-marathon at Disney.
Star Wars in the Classroom:
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