I'm not gonna lie: I'm a pretty new member to Star Wars fandom. To start: I wasn't particularly raised around sci-fi. In fact, due to my neurological condition hydrocephalus, and the significant amount of brain trauma that I developed as a result, I think my mother made the active decision to fill my available hours with more educational and brain-boosting activities than watching television. As such, I was only allowed ten hours of television consumption per week, which - of course - I used on everything RTR Countdown, MTV music videos and anything else related to music, so that I could learn new songs, practice new dance moves and start choreographing performances of my own. The rest of my days were spent on homework, word puzzles like codebreaker and madlibs, writing my own songs, and practicing piano, guitar and drums.
It was only when I was at my friends' house that I divulged in content that was outside of this scope... mostly because very few of my friends were as enthusiastic about music as I was.
But I digress.
The other main reason that I didn't really get into Star Wars was because - and I remember this vividly [believe it or not] - when I went to see Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: I couldn't remember it.
Let me paint the picture for you.
I had just spent five and a half weeks in hospital. During this particular stint, I'd had five surgeries - one specifically due to the fact that during one of the surgeries: an infection called staphylococcus was introduced into my cranium, resulting in my coming within a hair of death. 0 out of 10 stars. Would not recommend.
Anyway, due to the impact this - and the other surgeries - had had on my brain. My memory was severely impacted. Remembering people's names, directions to places, how to spell simple words [and I used to be referred to as the human dictionary by my friends at school], and events... losing one's memory is terrifying. I recently attended a play at The Arena Stage here in Washington, DC about Frederick Douglass, where one of the lyrics rang out - something along the lines of "without our memories, we have no life". Well, that hit me in the feelings.
Because - again - due to the impact of hydrocephalus complications on my brain, and more specifically: my memory: my life had been severely impacted.
So here I was - nine years old, watching Star Wars: Phantom Menace, and I just could not follow the storyline. Every ten minutes, I'd ask my mum what was happening, because I couldn't remember what had happened earlier in the film.
But when it came to comprehending even the basic principles of what Star Wars teaches? Yeah... I TOTALLY missed the boat.
The balance of passion, strength, power and victory with peace, knowledge, serenity and harmony
.... such important life lessons that I, of course, somehow learned and developed through my own self actualization process of songwriting, and using lyrics to identify, understand and overcome adversity.
With my song Save You From Yourself: I learned to embrace my "dark side" [anger, frustration and even angst] and balance it with a tough love approach to empowering myself to reclaim my authenticity.
Or even my song Be Brave: I was able to look at other aspects of my "dark side" [fear, overwhelm and trepidation] to balance it with hope and an inner fight.
So now - as a fully grown adult - I'm able to look at one of the greatest film series of all time, and really start to understand not just the storylines, but how I can relate to, and learn from the characters, but their journeys towards creating and understanding a values and principles system that serves them long-term... and how I can show up for myself as a JEDI through not just music, but songwriting and coaching... and everything I do as a human.
It all boils down to one thing: What does being a JEDI mean?
... and how, on earth does that relate to music, songwriting, empowerment, youth empowerment, or anything that I have been talking about for the past four, five, six years? Well, it's simple, really. In order to be a JEDI, we don't necessarily need light sabers, a best friend named Yoda, or the ability to navigate the galaxies far, far away. What if that light saber used to fight against "the dark side" is actually symbolic of our own positive emotions used to combat mental health struggles? What if Yoda is actually representative of our inner child, adult and inner teacher [remembering, of course, that "we are loved, we are love, and everything we could possibly need lives within us]? What if the ability to navigate galaxies far, far away is actually a metaphor for stepping outside of our comfort zones and facing up to parts of ourselves - and of the world - that are scary?
What if being a JEDI is about using our platforms - whatever those platforms are - to stand for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion?
Noting, of course, that Star Wars as an enterprise is
consistently fighting for justice for the entire galaxy
demonstrating first hand that, no matter what ship you're on, and no matter what side of the force you belong to: all members of your ship are equal when it comes to the force.
further to point three: diversity is a superpower, as different members of your community will demonstrate different strengths to yours
and, of course, this all results in the importance of including everyone in the conversation.
Music and Songwriting has become my JEDI Mission
Because music is one of my superpowers, and songwriting is almost like my lightsaber, which - when used together - helps to fight against mental health, adversity and struggle: I've found that they've been instrumental tools [pun intended] to alchemize trauma/anger/grief/overwhelm [read: the dark side] into positivity/self love/resilience/hope [read: the force] .
With every song: I'm able to transform negative emotions into empowering ones.
With every lyric: I'm able to reduce overwhelm by getting my thoughts and feelings onto paper to then analyze, interpret and transform.
With every melody: I'm able to create memorable affirmations of strength, resilience and self love - that my mind, body and spirit can actually hold on to and remember.
And now I can focus my energy and my music onto demonstrating justice for myself, as well as my peers. Recognizing and celebrating my equity and equality - even if some states and countries don't necessarily agree me. I see it in myself, and show up for myself as such. I can start to honor my own diversity [culturally, ethnically, spiritually, experience- and trauma-wise, plus so much more... but that's a topic for another blog]. And lastly: I can use those same songs to not just embrace ideas of inclusion, but almost as a call-to-arms to others like me who are creating their own identities, and recognizing the power within them.
You Can Do It Too
As with every good JEDI, we all need someone to show us the way. Luke Skywalker wasn't born a hero, he was born a badass in training... it was only through the teachings of Obi-Wan and Yoda [among others] that he was able to step fully into himself and his powers.
Here's the thing: we are all like Luke.
We just need to find the right coach and mentor to help us find our inner song, our inner lightsaber, our inner superpower[s] to help us ward off the dark side, discover our inner JEDI, and help us to turn our mental health struggles and other traumas into recognizing our positive power, and stepping into being one with the force.
And while my name isn't Yoda, I'd love to be a part of your emotional- and mental health journey towards writing your song of positive affirmations, self-actualized support and stepping into a force of your own.