Learned On Hoth

In the middle of the Arctic blast, snuggled under the Beatles blanket and between discussions on Sherlock, I decided it would be most appropriate to watch The Empire Strikes Back.  I mean, what better way to acknowledge the bitter cold outside, and the continuing drop in temperature than by watching a movie that starts on a frozen planet?!  To Hoth I traveled and quickly fell into one of my favorite worlds to escape to – the world of Star Wars – a place “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.”

When left to my own devices, I prefer to watch the original theatrical versions of the original trilogy.  Sure, it’s not wide scree n format, but that’s why picture size can be adjusted.  You aren’t keeping me down, Mr. Lucas!  I laugh at your attempts to make me conform to your Special Edition styled world.  There was no reason to change the force ghost at the end of Jedi!!!
Sorry….bit of a tangent there….my bad.

So, back to Empire.

While watching this original version of my favorite of the original trilogy, I thought to myself, “it’s scarier when you can’t see the Wampa.” To me, it is.  Should you not be in the know, Luke is out patrolling around Echo base – the Rebel outpost – when he decides to check out a meteor that has fallen near by.  His tauntaun (his mount, part kangaroo, part goat, all stinky) is spooked and *WHAM* Luke is knocked off his….steed(?)…by a clawed hand. The tauntaun is killed and we see Luke dragged, unconscious, off into the snowy landscape.
Later, we see Luke hung upside down in the ice – like meat at a butcher’s shop.  Off somewhere, we hear the sounds of the creature.  Luke uses his very, very, basic skills in the force to summon his lightsaber just in the nick of time when we, and he, sees the wampa jump out of the whiteness.  Luke swings his lightsaber, we see a severed arm fall, and the wails of the creature follows Luke as he stumbles into the whiteout that is Hoth.

That scene terrified me as a child.  Many a viewing had me peeking out from a blanket, or between fingers.  That’s what makes that version of Empire exciting – so much is left to your imagination.

This remembrance of childhood frights made me think that, really, not much has changed.  Not seeing the wampa, the unknown, is still scarier than fears acknowledged.  That’s why the night can be terrifying.  While I know what should be there because I saw it in the light, doesn’t mean that is what is there when the sun goes down.

I find myself still scared of the unknown, but the known can be just as scary.  I know, for example, where I live can be limiting.  I know that decisions will be made where explanations, no matter have eloquent or thought out, will not make sense to others.  I know how I feel, and it scares me that my choices may have a detrimental affect on my future.

Still…..I also know those fears may be unfounded.  I’m Luke calling out for my lightsaber, knowing the choice(s) I make will save me – but I am lost, stumbling in the blinding whiteness, running from the wampa, unsure if my decision has stopped it, held it off for a moment, or if it is conquered.

There are so many archetypes in Star Wars.  It’s the hero story found in all cultures – mythology and magic.  My little observation might not resonate with everyone, but that’s the best part of the original trilogy: everyone can find something. 

On this cold day, it made me reflect on how the unknown can be terrifying BUT that fear can be faced – has to be faced to survive.  Doesn’t mean it’ll be easy.  Doesn’t mean you won’t be scarred by it.  All it gives you is a chance and from then on, it’s up to you.

You, and amazing friends (and family) who don’t give up on you.  Just like Han going out to find Luke….
Too far?  Probably, but you have to admit, Han’s pretty B.A. for doing that.

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