@johndgardiner, I think work hard and you’ll succeed is in some ways a lie. I think success in life is a combination of circumstances, choices, and dumb luck. The better your circumstances at birth and early life, the better choices you’ll have, which, when combined with luck may payoff.
I'm a fan of science fiction. Books, TV shows, movies. It doesn't matter. I love all of it. Some of my earliest memories are of me sitting in front of the television watching re-runs of Star Trek. Forbidden Planet, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Fantastic Voyage, The Andromeda Strain, there were some of my favorite movies. Tales of far aways places, robots, supercomputers. The nerds who had these adventures, the scientist, theses were my peeps.
While science-fiction is my thing, I also developed a tolerance for good fantasy. I put Star Wars in that good fantasy category. I didn't watch a lot of fantasy. The few things that I did see, Jason and the Argonauts, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, were cheesy, full of bad acting, with the main protagonist who were strong muscular types who fought with swords instead of their minds. Yeah, not my type of thing. Lots of death at the hands of power-hungry human beings.
Star Wars: A New Hope was the first blockbuster fantasy movie I ever saw. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember we were living in Antigua at the time. The island nation can best be described as coral rock with topsoil. Antigua was dryer than most of the island but more hip. I spend most of my formative teenage years in Antigua. Antigua was the place where I learned how to do stupid things to impress girls. It was the place where I discovered my love of science -- physics, chemistry, biology. We lived there from 1978 to 1983.
In those days, American movies were released in the British West Indies about a year after their American début. In 1978 I was about 12 years old. Girls were starting to look different and Princess Leia looked pleasantly different. As a developing geek who liked fiddling with electronics, who read physics and chemistry books the way some kids read Harry Potter, I identified strongly with the main characters of the movie. C3P0 and R2D2 and the Millennium Falcon.
R2 was the genius of the movie. He could beep his way out of any situation. If it were not for the bumbling behaviour of 3P0, R2 could have easily defeated the empire himself. I loved those droids. I had them on my bedsheets and pillowcases.
I didn't like any of the evil characters. I did not like the Emperor or Darth Vader, and I do not understand anyone who cos-plays as either one. I dislike this so much I was pissed at George Lucas for putting Anakin in the "ghost" scene at the end of the Return of the Jedi. Anakin's first act after becoming Darth Vader was to kill every child in the Jedi Temple. In a New Hope, he destroys an entire planet, killing a few billion people. He's the definition of a mass murderer. But in George Lucas' twisted universe, these atrocities are forgiven because Anakin redeems himself by selfishly saving his son? Whatever!
I never got into the costume thing. Mostly because geek culture did (does) not exists in the Caribbean. There was no Star Wars fan club. No place to get raw material to make your costume. No place to buy a lightsaber toy replica. Bedsheets and pyjamas were as geeky as it got. I vaguely remember owning one of the droid figures.
Despite all that, I have to admit, I have eagerly anticipated each episode of George Lucas's tall tale. A "New Hope" will always be the favourite of the bunch because it's where I first got to know my two robots friends. We're going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Christmas Eve. My kids are eagerly looking forward to the movie.
What are your Star Wars stories and memories? Where were you when first saw the movies?
Last year a 15-year-old wrote to Leo Babauta.
‘As a high-school student I’m constantly being reminded to figure out what to do with my life, what career I would like to have and so on. I definitely feel huge amounts of pressure when my teachers and parents tell me to figure out something now. I’m young and I don’t want to make a mistake and ruin my future. I know what I like and what my interests are but when I read about a job related to those interests I always feel as if I wouldn’t enjoy it and I don’t know why.’
Leo wrote back:
Prepare yourself by learning about your mind, becoming trustworthy, building things, overcoming procrastination, getting good at discomfort and uncertainty.
You can put all this off and live a life of safety and boringness. Or you can start today, and see what life has to offer you.Leo
Recently, Bhavana and I have put pressure on our 16 year-old son, Shaan, to figure out his life. He's only a year from graduating high school and big decisions are looming. Bhavana is concerned (fearful?) by his lack of concern.
I think we have forgotten what it was like when we were sixteen. I think my Bhavana may have been more driven to get somewhere but at sixteen I was more interested in computers, electronics, science, and hanging out on the beach. My pursuit of the knowledge of science wasn't driven by any specific career aspirations. They were driven by the love of the science and knowledge itself.
Leo had an answer for this young woman on what to tell her parents and I shared his response and the entire article with both of my kids.
Lastly, what do you do when your parents and teachers pressure you to figure things out? Tell them you’re going to be an entrepreneur, start your own business, and take over the world. If you prepare for that, you’ll actually be prepared for any career.
Wise words. Wise words, indeed.