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Mindful : December 2013
60 mindful December 2013 family By Jeremy Adam Smith Illustration by Kevin Van Aelst The year is 1977. I am 7 years old and I am in a movie theater. My life is about to change forever. “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...” it sta r ts. Every image that follows is a shock; each one seems to spring from some deep memory, yet I have never seen anything like the beat-up puzzle-piece spaceships, the sinister marshmallow of the Stormtroopers’ armor, the deep- breathing shadow of Darth Vader. There is something else that burns itself into my mind, something beyond, A father and son find common ground in the land of Wookies, Jedi, Imperial Stormtroopers, and Ewoks. The Force, it turns out, may be mindfulness. Luke, I’m Your Dad behind, above the images. “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power,” says the Jedi Knight Obi-Wa n Kenobi to the ide- alistic farm boy Luke Skywalker. “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” The Force? This goes beyond the really cool flashing light sabers and pulsing blaster ca nnons. This is...philoso- phy—a bulky, foreign, fascinating word to my seven-yea r-old self. But even at that age I understa nd that the philosophy of Star Wars is not merely tacked on; it is built right into the narrative. When Luke is tra ining with his mas- ter, Obi-Wa n instructs him to “stretch Jeremy Adam Smith is editor of the Greater Good Science Center’s website and author of the book The Daddy Shift. out with your feelings,” implying that our emotions and intuitions contain importa nt information that ca n help guide us. Pay attention to what is happen- ing inside, the film suggests. Later on, the point is reinforced, and Luke is asked to trust something both larger than himself and deep within. When he is trying unsuccessfully to fire a laser torpedo to destroy the Death Star, Obi-Wan’s disem- bodied voice intones, “Let go, Luke.” These are messages I’m not getting from anyone else in 1977. Thirty-five years later, in the futur- istic-sounding yea r of 2012, I’m sitting with my 7-year-old son, Liko, in a movie theatre. We are about to watch the →