Rogue One and Legacy
The start of a new year inevitably leads me to wonder…what did I leave behind me in those 365 days that I somehow stumbled through?
There are so many hard feelings floating around about 2016, and a few of the sounding trumpets I can’t help but grumble my agreement over. But the start of this new year has me looking forward at the blank slate in front of me and feeling hopeful that God is a good God, and that he is still the one who writes redemption into the time and space of all things—even my mind numbing cubicle job.
Looking at this fresh new year, I feel like a glove just waiting to be filled by what the Lord has, to be moved and used for something. The desperate voice in me says, For anything, but then I step back and give the Lord a tentative prod because when you say things like that, he always seems to hear them so clearly and present you with the terrifying Anything, just like you asked.
My sister came home late last night from a trip to Vietnam with one of her college friends. With all the beach sights, the coconut drinking, and the funky-shaped fruit tasting, she seemed to be having the time of her life. I’m now having the time of mine, because she’s back in the flesh and I can hug her instead of miss her.
Of all the things she said to me while going on about her awesome trip, I didn’t expect it to be that she was starting a plan to move far away. Out of the country. Within a year.
I also didn’t expect her to start trying to haggle me into teaching English abroad in South Korea as soon as possible.
At the end of 2016, I felt like a snake stripped of its skin, all slimy and tender and delicate.
It was a year of losing hope, sometimes of despair, and it involved a great deal of letting go of self-dreams. Not that I will or I won’t, but teaching in South Korea was a pipe dream of mine in college, and it felt weird to stand in our kitchen today—after discussing our attack strategy on the mice living somewhere in the caverns of our cabinets—and to have my sister pointing out one of the dreams I’d let die and saying, “You can do it. I think you would love to do it. Not only can you do it…but you should do it. You would love it so much.”
I got to enjoy the most recent addition to the Star Wars family of films over the holidays, and I must say, Rogue One was not what I expected. That’s partly my fault, though. I assumed it would be much more of the daring deeds and the triumphant conclusions, like the perfectly formed conclusion in A New Hope.
If you’ve not seen Rogue One yet, turn back now or continue reading at your own risk, for there be spoilers afoot. Big, rotten, smelly ones.
Call me a blind optimist, but the last thing I expected when watching this movie was for everyone to die.
Something in me said, NO! Where is the redemptive triumph? What about the fact that Cassian obviously has the hots for Jyn, as proven by the intense eyes of the elevator scene toward the end of the film. They need closure! Heck, I need closure. I need these heroes who risked everything for the good of the galaxy to get some God damn recognition for it. But mostly, I need them to live on to see the legacy that they invested their lives in be fulfilled.
What I got instead was a hot flash and searing disappointment.
It was an assault to my subconcious, unhealthy idea of what it means to make an impact or to leave a legacy. Things like incessant cyber connectivity, i.e. social media, have put a haze over the eyes of the world about what it means to be a positive influence. It has created the illusion that the only way to change the world is for the world to know your name and to hear your voice, and to have them hear you right now, by golly, with 4K hits and a viral video to go with it or it doesn’t even count.
As a writer-to-the-core, it has been bit heartbreaking to accept that no one has to listen to a damn thing that I have to say. The world has so many voices shouting at the same time, and social media is ten times more grating than any holiday dinner party that I’ve ever been to. I’ve been to a few ringers in my time, too.
The wear of social media on me has made me see how my life interacts with and impacts others differently. For so long, I’ve been fixated on this personal achievement of finding a success story this way or that one as a writer, and I’ve seen it as being some golden magical key to unlocking the power of personal identity and positive impact.
Not to discount the glory of applause while you stand on your mountaintop, but there are people you’re rubbing shoulders with right now as you try to climb those summits of career or personal success who need you, and you need them. Eyes open, folks.
The characters in Rogue One were my favorite part of the entire film. They were so creative, distinct, and diverse. Each one of them was strong in a different way. They’d all been living lives so markedly different from each others, forging their own paths with different ideas about what they should be doing with their time: hiding, honoring the Force, or stirring up trouble for the First Order by any means necessary.
Their wide ranging stories all converged over an important string of events, and these ordinary people banded together to accomplish something that would shift the fate of the galaxies…a feat so incredible that it would lead to their nameless victory, sudden death, and someone else getting some gold medals and applause as a result.
Wait. They don’t get a reward? Even worse, they all get blow up?! But they did all that hard work, they made all of those sacrifices! The had so much hope.
At the end of A New Hope, it’s Luke Skywalker and Han Solo who get the gold medals and the applause for later making use of those Death Star plans that Jyn and her friends managed to smuggle out. It’s thanks to Rogue One that that planet-destroying mega-spaceship was turned into space dust at all.
The LEAST the fictional realm in Star Wars could have done was let Cassian figure out his feelings for Jyn and they live happily ever after. But no.
As much as I grumble over its realistic ending, I think this is the perfect movie to curb the bite of 2016. So many people hoped for so much more of themselves and of the world this year than what we got to see. I know I did. Rogue One is a reminder that we don’t always get to see the effects of the things we lived for, the prayers we prayed, or the mountains we have died on in the sight of this great cloud of witnesses.
For anyone who has been wounded by this year, I would encourage you to have courage. Be kind. As these feisty heroes said, rebellions are built on hope. So hope in something beyond what your self-conscious eyes can see when you look at your resume before a job interview, and rebel against the self-fears by holding fast in hope to a God that works intimately within and magically beyond the short sight of your single life to accomplish something far greater.
He not only knows your name, but he knows every flake of graphite it takes to spell it out in cursive lines on lined notebook paper. He knows every chord of meaning in each syllable of it, first, middle, last, that strike upon the core of who you are.
He knows you.
He knows where you are on the plot line of history, how your piece fits into the great and beautiful Grand Scheme. You may be like Luke and live in the warmth of approval for your deeds someday soon, or you may be like Jyn and never live to see the full work of your hands fulfilled in your lifetime. Either way, the Lord sees you. He knows fully your timeline, and where it fits on the grand timeline of bringing heaven to earth.
One of my resolutions for 2017 is that I will breath that reality in deep and accept that that is enough. Because it is, for all of us. It just takes a little hope to see it.