All We Need is an Ewok

I don’t follow many Twitter power users, but one that I do follow is Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. Yesterday evening, he tweeted:

Feeling pensive today and pondering life’s big questions. For example, what does Luke Skywalker do on father’s day?

I couldn’t help but laugh. I was going to make some acknowledgment of Father’s Day in this space, likely about how it’s still weird to have the day mean something after years of awkwardness and unanswered (heck, unasked) questions. But Hsieh’s short, offhand musing thrusted me in a different direction, toward a galaxy far, far away…

To date, the best cinematic analogy of my life has been (sigh) “What a Girl Wants.”

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How much cooler would it be as the “Star Wars” trilogy? (Let’s pretend the prequels didn’t happen.) You’ve got a princess and a farmboy, both destined to be on the front lines of the battle to preserve galactic freedom.  They were separated at birth and thrown onto remarkably different trajectories, only to be reunited by chance thanks to a couple of wacky droids. Leia is equipped with incredible poise and toughness, entrusted by the entire rebel force with the secrets that, if revealed, could doom their cause. Luke has the blood of the jedi flowing through his veins, and is imbued with a power he can barely understand but slowly begins to master.

OK, maybe my brother and I don’t completely match up to this plotline. But, well, we were separated at birth, and we did get thrown onto markedly different trajectories. The other details vary juuuuuuust a little bit.

The other big problem with this comparison is their father, Darth Vader. Because as we know, in the movies, Darth Vader has been consumed by his power and turned to the dark side. In a small part of his heart, though, he remembers who he was, and he loves his children.

I think that I might tentatively liken my childhood and adolescent understanding of my father, who I didn’t yet know, to something like Darth Vader — a big, dark presence to whom I accorded all sorts of nefarious intentions, but who in his precious few moments of humility manages to remember his past.

As the past few years of actually knowing him have proven, my father is nothing like Darth Vader. Thinking about it, he’s sort of a mix of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo. He’s got Han’s confidence and charm, but Obi-Wan’s insight and goodness. I’m not sure he’s the best starship pilot in the universe, but he can handle a Toyota Four-Runner on the narrow, winding roads of Oxfordshire pretty well. That’s got to count for something.

So maybe “Star Wars” isn’t the perfect cinematic analogy for my life. But “What a Girl Wants” isn’t, either. This is my story, unique in all of its perfect and imperfect ways. There’s no ideal analogue out there. That, of course, means there’s no template for understanding all the things I am still trying to figure out — like Father’s Day. But I’m getting there.

I’d like to think, though, that my brother and I could save a galaxy if called upon to do so. That there is an untapped wellspring of capacity buried deep within us, just waiting for the right moment to make itself known.

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