During my senior year of high school, my AP English teacher tried to teach my classmates and me that the journey is more important than arriving at the destination. With my extreme lack of patience, I thought he was crazy. Waiting for a Star Wars movie to be released is actually better than seeing the movie? The basketball regular season is more important than the championship at the end? Being in school is better than graduation? It made no sense to me, but Star Wars helped me figure it out.
When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to get to college. I wanted to take classes about subjects that interested me. In high school I was always taking classes and tests that would allow me to go to college and I was looking forward to getting there. I wanted to be more independent and begin working towards a career.
When I finally got to college, I realized I had no idea which career path I wanted to follow, but I knew I wanted to get there quickly. I was always hurrying to the next step in my education so I could start living life as soon as possible. When I decided that I wanted to go to dental school, I once again couldn’t wait to get there. I know how Luke Skywalker felt about wanting to become a Jedi as soon as possible.
Of course, when I began dental school my impatience got the best of me again. Yoda and Obi-Wan would be very disappointed. I couldn’t wait to graduate and get into private practice. Four years is a long time. Dental school was a great experience and I made a lot of friends from around the world that I still keep in touch with today, but I still couldn’t wait to be my own boss, set my own hours, and own my own practice. Yoda may as well have been talking to me when he said, “All his life has he looked away…to the future, the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. What he was doin’.”
So after graduating from college and dental school I was finally ready to begin my life as a practicing dentist. It was an exciting time! I met my wife two weeks after I graduated and we got married about a year later. But soon I found myself looking forward to retirement, which was at least 25-30 years away. I was always looking forward to the next phase of life and not always enjoying to the fullest my life right now. I needed Qui-Gon Jinn to remind me to keep my concentration here and now where it belongs, even though I should be mindful of the future, as Yoda suggested.
Then an awesome thing happened over the next few years: I had kids. Three boys. And it didn’t take long to figure out that they grow up fast. As my wife told me, and continually reminds me, planning for the future is important, but not at the expense of missing out on our kids growing up. Our first son was born in 2005, a few months after Revenge of the Sith was released. Like most people, I figured I’d seen my last new Star Wars movie.
Then another awesome thing happened: Disney announced it was going to make more Star Wars movies. I was going to get to experience new Star Wars with my kids at the perfect ages. Keeping toys in perfect condition or in the boxes didn’t seem to matter as much anymore. Seeing my kids play with my original Star Wars toys mattered. Seeing how excited they were to make up stories and adventures in their own minds made it worth letting them break a toy occasionally. Planning for Force Friday on September 4th is making our journey even more exciting. I can still remember the rush of getting new action figures when I was a kid. It’s still fun for me today, but now I’ll get to see how happy my sons are when we go together to buy new Star Wars action figures. It will be something I will never forget and I hope they won’t either.
I remember how thrilled I was when I saw Return of the Jedi in the theater for the first time when I was seven years old. When The Force Awakens is released my boys will be between 3 and 10 years old and, no matter how good the movie is, the best part will be seeing it with my kids. It will be even more fun than when I saw any of the Star Wars movies when I was a kid. It will be the first and only time I will get to take them to see their first Star Wars movie in a theater. And if seeing The Force Awakens teaser trailer the day after Thanksgiving last year with my boys in the movie theater is any indication, I will be crying like a baby on December 18th and my sons will be wondering what is wrong with me.
For as long as I can remember I have tried to use the Force. It never worked for me until I had kids. Now I have them convinced that I can use the Force. Or maybe they just want so badly to believe that I have the Force that they ignore the fact that I’m using the garage door opener when I tell them that I opened the garage with a wave of my hand. Or when we’re playing catch with a baseball and the wind moves the ball in the air, but I tell them I moved it with the Force.
My high school English teacher actually knew what he was talking about, but it took me about half my life to figure that out. The journey definitely is better than arriving at the destination. I still look forward to my boys growing up, but I’m not in a rush to see it happen. Going through this time in my kids’ lives is amazing. The Force Awakens is not the destination, it’s part of the journey. I’m still impatient and most likely I always will be, but realizing that I have a limited time with my kids at these ages and that I’m lucky enough that several new Star Wars movies will be made during this time has helped me focus more on the present. In the past, I would have been barely able to wait until December 18th, but now I’m enjoying the anticipation leading up to it, especially since I get to experience it all with my three sons.
What is your favorite part of this Star Wars journey? Let me know. Leave a comment below, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact me on Twitter @ryderwaldrondds. Thanks so much for reading my blog and remember:
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