“Perception is reality.” ~ Lee Atwater
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” ~ Helen Keller
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” ~ Mark Twain
This has happened to me and maybe it has to you too. You’re going along, life is great, or not so great, but familiar and … boom … something happens and your life is turned upside down. It can be something as small as a minor car accident that disrupts your life for a while, to something big, like losing your job, your spouse, or receiving a life threatening diagnosis. The way we react or respond to these types of events is literally all in our heads.
I used both words react and respond in the above sentence because to me they are two different ways of conducting oneself in everyday life. To react, in my mind, is negative. Someone says or does something and instead of taking in the information and evaluating it, we go on the attack. To respond is to take a few breaths, look at all sides of what has happened, and then decide how we are going to proceed in that situation.
Over the years I’ve changed from someone who reacts to events and people, to someone who responds. I don’t remember the exact incident, but I do remember the feeling of relief when I accepted that I was responsible for my life. And that my nature was made up of both light and darkness. It wasn’t always easy to make the change from feeling like the world was against me to realizing that it was my attitude that had an affect on the way I was experiencing life. But little by little I stopped looking outside myself for solutions and began untangling all the junk assumptions I’d held onto for so long.
I was reminded of how I transformed my life when I read a very introspective blog post by Sam Wood titled “The Last Jedi, toxic masculinity, and showing your place in all this”
I’m a big Star Wars fan, have been since the first movie came out in 1977. It’s an epic series about light and dark, facing personal demons, and finding your path. And after watching The Power of Myth a conversation between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell, who happened to be George Lucas’ teacher, I realized that we create myths to explain our deepest fears, hopes, and dreams. Most of the science fiction, fantasy, and superhero books and movies produced today are our modern myths. They help us figure out real life issues from a safe distance.
The thing I loved about Sam Wood’s post was his examination of a car crash kind of turning point in our world, that of white male identity. Here’s a telling quote from the article: “It’s no mistake I say ‘he’. Heroism, protagonessence, being the best, being supreme is the legacy of whiteness, of patriarchy, of heteronormativity. It is the toxicity that suffuses the identity of young white men, that suffuses my identity. And before The Last Jedi I had never seen it been represented simultaneously so sympathetically, and with so little indulgence of my bullshit.”
When I read this blog post, I had seen The Last Jedi twice, and I thought his observations were brilliant. The “heroes” of the story all have a very male point of view. They think of themselves as heroes and it’s their job to save the day, or berate themselves for failing to do so. Okay Finn doesn’t accept that mantle, but people keep trying to thrust it upon him. Each man struggles with this way of seeing themselves. And what happens? Each of them fail epically. When that happens, the way they see themselves and the world is shaken, which gives them the opportunity to change their perceptions.
It’s the women, Rey, Leia Organa, Vice Admiral Holdo, and Rose, who propose new ways of looking the world and themselves. When Rose stops Finn from a Kamikaze stunt, he asks her why. She says, “We’re going to win this war not by fighting what we hate, but by saving what we love!”
Rey resists Kylo’s plea to join him in ruling the galaxy. She tries to get him to acknowledge his own light, but he refuses. She follows her own inner guidance and rejoins the resistance.
And in the end, when there are only about forty resistance fighters left, Rey asks Leia how they can turn the tide against the evil First Order. Leia says, “We have everything we need.” In other words, it’s what they have inside that counts, not the number of weapons they wield.
The story belongs to Rey and the other women. They offer Luke, Po, Finn, and Kylo the opportunity to change. They invite them to be a part of a bigger and more important effort to change the galaxy through cooperation. Kylo is the only one who doesn’t accept. He wants to ease his suffering by becoming supreme leader thinking that will solve all his problems. He doesn’t understand that his problems are imaginary, created inside his own head and emotions. That’s how it is with all of us, we create our own problems. And that’s where we have to solve them.
There are times when I look at the way my life is going and I’m tempted to slide back into blaming the fates for the things I’d like to be different. 2017 was that kind of year. But then I remember, that the world I see is the one I’ve created and I can change my mind any time I so choose. Since blaming events outside myself hasn’t made anything in my life better, I think I’ll take a step back and let go of some more of the things I thought I knew for sure.
Blessings for your new year. Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.