I have always been a Star Wars fan. Not a fan-atic one though. A lot has been said, written and posted about the latest episode, “The Last Jedi”. Real fans called it the best Star Wars film so far. Critics dissed it as a bad movie. With good insights and observations from both sides. One of the more interesting reviews I came across put the movie in the context of aging – of Luke Skywalker. And being the age that I am on now, that resonated a lot with me.
So, Rey goes on a quest looking for Luke Skywalker, the Last Jedi, so that he can mentor her into becoming a Jedi to help her in the fight against the First Order. She finds him in a remote corner of the universe – the ghost of his former self. No longer the dashing and brave fighter that he was in earlier episodes. Beset by doubts and regrets from his past. No longer burning with faith and hope in fighting for what is good and true. Instead, just waiting for the end, wishing it to come soon and unnoticed.
Old age seems to have that effect on people. Aging wastes away the body as well as the spirit. It shrivels up muscles as well as the light of faith that burned brightly in one’s youth. The faith that made one willing and eager to get up in the morning and get things down. Now, it is a lingering malaise that sees nothing much in the future and forgetting all that one had lived for and accomplished.
The challenge of old age is to keep that faith burning. To remain true to one’s self, to one’s beliefs and principles, and to one’s family, friends and partners. The great temptation of old age is lose that faith and deny the truth of one’s life.
In old age, one may begin to lose faith in one’s self. As physical and mental faculties start withering away, one also loses one’s self-worth. Specially when one becomes dependent on others – physically, financially, mentally, emotionally. All the achievements of the past and of one’s youth count for nothing now. Yes, I’d rather hie off to some remote place like Luke did.
When one is old, it is difficult to keep faith in one’s principles and ideals. In my youthful idealism, I wanted to change the world and society and to help build a new one based on justice, kindness and compassion. I realize now that those were all pipe dreams. In some instances, I have been co-opted by the system I sought to bring down. I have been complicit in some practices I use to denounce. I’d rather keep quiet rather than speak about my failed dreams and quixotic quests.
As old age creeps in, even the people around me change. Some for the better. Others for the worse. And still others simply fade away and disappear. Some have gone ahead. Others have taken a different path. And still others have completely moved over to the dark side. I am thankful there are those who have stayed and have remained in their love and faith in me – in spite of myself.
Is there redemption in the end? This is the ultimate life-saving belief. That in spite of everything, there will be a perfecting of life, a completion of the unfinished projects and creation, that the light will overpower the darkness, that life is stronger than death, and that goodness will vanquish evil.
My prayer in my old age is that in spite of all the doubts, cynicism and apprehensions I go through as I age; I will be able to keep faith in myself and my essential goodness, in the people whom I have loved and loved me immeasurable, and in the principles and ideals that have given meaning to my whole life. May I stay with my foundational and basic option to be a force for life and for the good, the true, the beautiful.