I was talking to my therapist last week about the sort of person I want to be. “Assertive rather than aggressive, with compassion toward other people.” And he noted that the big difference between being assertive and aggressive is emotion. That caring less about outcomes on a personal level will help me stay more in control of my behavior. To remember that concepts like fairness and justice are not the natural order of things; they’re human constructs, very delicate and fallible. As the Buddhists say, suffering is caused by attachment. And as I heard on a podcast this week, the Universe is a shithole. (If you were dropped anywhere in the Universe, even most places on this planet, you would die immediately. Very inhospitable.)
The thing Jedi training gets right (by swiping it from Buddhism, mostly) is that fighting out of anger (even righteous anger) is a recipe for losing. Killing out of hatred (even well-deserved hatred) poisons the one attempting to bring justice. Calmness and compassion are mandatory weapons to win any battle.
Why do I so easily jump to the conclusion that I’m being attacked? Partly, surely, because I was bullied a lot as a child. It’s late in the game, but I’m trying to retrain my brain not to immediately take that leap. So, yes, it’s a stupid kids’ franchise. But it’s also important for me to see Luke and Rey in that same struggle, training and working to control their emotions and open their minds to compassion while continuing to fight to make the world better.
Went to see the “last” Star Wars movie last night. I was expecting to be disappointed on the level of 11-year-old me on seeing Return of the Jedi. (It had some great space battles and a great Final Confrontation, but there were so many ham-handed elements that were less good than what my imagination could produce. Bikini Leia? Luke and Leia are twins as a cheap resolution to a love triangle? Another Death Star? Ewoks? We deserved better.)
It exceeded my low expectations. While the first half was kind of scattered all over the place, the end pulled it together enough to work for me. Ben got to have a change of heart without erasing all the damage he’d done and die not as a hero, but at least as an ally. Though the kiss was totally stupid. Rey got to be tempted by hatred and overcome it to find her own path. Fin got to stop being the doofus he’d become in the last movie, and Poe got to grow up more than Han ever did. And we got just enough Lando.
There were plot holes a-plenty (this is Star Wars, after all), and it suffered from wanting to out-do its predecessors in scope, but that all comes with the territory. The biggest missed opportunity (even bigger than the Stormpilot ship which Abrams aggressively batted down) was to bring balance to the Force. Lip service is always paid to “bringing balance to the Force,” but when it comes down to it, everything is painted a simplistic good and evil where of course good has to triumph in the end. This new trilogy has teased at the potential for the end of Jedi and Sith, and some kind of coming together of the dark and the light to form something more sustainable than constant war. I was left at the end with, “well that ended THAT episode, but it didn’t really solve anything.”
And I could do without anything being solved if the creators admitted that the conflict is never over, we have to keep working together bringing justice always, and the story never really has an end. But I guess that’s too much to expect from a juiced-up fairy tale. The whole meta-story of the saga is about creating something that becomes bigger than you ever imagined, trying to sustain it with total making-it-up-as-you-go seat-of-the-pants bullshittery (with mixed results) then bringing it back as a love letter to inhuman villainy, then having it taken over by a new generation and problematically redeemed in spite of itself with more total making-it-up-as-you-go seat-of-the-pants bullshittery (with mixed results). The cycle is complete, and I feel free to ignore the rest of the Extruded Disney Product on tap for the next 100 years.
The Schell variant of the traditional Lain family Christmas Eve spaghetti sauce is heavy on the vegetables. The only meat is the New York style meatballs. As with all good traditions it takes the preexisting thing and adapts it to a new time and place.
The local public radio person came by and brought goodies, but also the news that they could move our spot to the middle of This American Life. I love being a supporter of the show, but it’s always irked me that our spot runs at the top when I often miss it (the show at 3:30 is often a dud). But I never thought to ask about moving it till this year.
I think NPR news has done a terrible job. They’re one of the worst media outlets with false equivalence and giving air time to people to lie and spout garbage unquestioned. But I still love This American Life.
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for that one story about the armadillo.