The State of 2017

The first time I tried to write this post, it was a long, dramatic, introspective look at this year and how I felt it changed me. With relationships, with my depression, with my writing, with how I saw myself and who I felt I was.

But after nearly being finished with that version, I stopped writing. And I’ve been thinking about it for a couple days.
And I’ve decided that it is insane to dwell on what has happened to me this year, the good and the bad, knowing all too well that it doesn’t do my mind any favors. I think 2017 has been the year of burning the past – I started the year with a mantra of ‘the universe tends to unfold as it should’, and even Kylo Ren knows that it’s time to leave the past behind and go forward.

2017 was a growing pain year. It was a shit year for the world, and it was a tough year personally. I spent the year from start to finish in love with the woman I’m more than likely going to marry – I graduated high school – I finished a new book of poetry I’m proud of.
But my depression returned. I lost friends. I lost purpose and lost sight of myself in far too many ways.

But we’re moving forward. This is but one year in the many I have left, and though it wasn’t great, it was transitional. It is setting up the stage for better things to come – whether I always believe it, or not. It’s time to kill the past and march forward because no matter how much we may want to, you can’t return to the past and you can’t change what has already been done.

I have a long way to go. In myself, personally. To those I care about around me. To the purpose that I hope I find. To the world.
So while I could choose to exit this year in a way that would still be fairly true to how I feel – I choose to discard that. I don’t want to exit the year thinking about the negative. Putting too much thought into it is only going to give it claim in reality, and negative energy and depression have no place in my life, and not in my 2018.

There will be tough times. But struggle and pain and sadness does not equal worthlessness. I’m not naive enough to believe that my clinical depression will be cured just by thinking positively enough, but I think it’s time that I set aside a place for happiness and hope to take a seat.

No matter the time it takes.

And that’s my resolution for the next year.

 

On an additional note, a couple extra resolutions for myself to look back on this time next year:

  • Continue to try to stop biting my fucking nails
  • Use reusable shopping bags as often as possible
  • Build relationships instead of building walls around myself
  • Read a few books for fuck’s sake
  • Do more stuff
  • Have a solid, feasible plan for college
  • Never be cruel nor cowardly.
  • Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.
  • Don’t eat a single pear.

 

So going forward, I wish everyone a happy, pleasant new year – and I hope everything ends up the way you wish and meets your every expectation.

With love:

That’s all I have to say about that.

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The Star Wars Problem

Possible spoilers for the film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Proceed with caution.

I wanna preface this – as a massive Star Wars fan, I love the original trilogy, I have some vague respect for the prequel trilogy, and I have thoroughly enjoyed The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, despite their glaring issues. I don’t dislike any of the film’s – I really don’t even hate Phantom Menace.

My issue that I’m starting to have with this new, corporate, Disney Star Wars is that they seem to lack depth. Whether it is or not, it seems to have a major issue of ‘making it up as they go along’, which for a franchise with such a rich, deep, extensive history and plethora of lore at their disposal, seems to stick out more than should be acceptable.

TLJ was a great movie. I really, really enjoyed it. But looking at the movie as a whole, I start to feel a little underwhelmed. Snoke was underplayed – supposedly this big, powerful, deeply evil villain – that they do zero with. Rey, this character that teases depth and intrigue – never delves beyond what is teased. It seems like a movie that is focused on teasing and setting up without ever paying off – and not in a way where it builds excitement and curiosity for the next film, but where it feels lazy and unfulfilling. All these characters are teased to be these great characters, but sadly end up staying in this little box of personality that doesn’t show anymore growth than when we first met them. They go in circles – we meet them, they show that there may be more than meets the eye, we reach the climax that should affect and change the characters, then they plateau into the same people they always were.

Take Rey, for example. In the last film, we see a desert scavenger that is shown to have a strange connection to both the Skywalker’s, and the Force as a whole. She is shown to be immensely powerful and a natural with the Force, proving to be a more than fair match to Kylo Ren, who has been training in the ways of the Force for years.

What’s her lineage? What’s her connection to the Force? Why is she so powerful? Who or what is she really?

Flash forward to TLJ. Rey is an incredibly powerful user of the Force, shown to be an equal to Kylo Ren and almost Luke Skywalker himself, is able to feel both sides of the Force, walk into the Dark Side and back out again – and is a desert scavenger born to two drunkards. None of it pays off. None of this grows her character in any way – she’s powerful and shown to be an embodiment of the Light Side of the Force to match Kylo’s embodiment of the Dark, but neither she, Luke, or us as the audience have any clue why.

Anakin Skywalker was a child born of the Force to fulfill a prophecy that would bring balance to the Force – in a world where the Jedi ruled as a ruthless, arrogant system of government, Akakin’s descent into darkness throws the Jedi off of their high horse and proves that their arrogant ways have led to their downfall. As Luke states in TLJ, the Force does not belong to the Sith, or the Jedi – it belongs to every living thing. The Force uses Akakin to end the Jedi’s narcissistic hold on the Force, and then uses his child, Luke Skywalker, to bring down the Empire and restore peace within the Galaxy and within the Force, completing the circle. It’s all one prophecy that fulfills itself over the span of about forty years or so, starting with Akakin’s life and ending with his death.

This is what was intended. George Lucas may not be a brilliant writer, but they was a plan in place, there was a story to be told, and the pieces (mostly) fit together.

But what is Rey? What is her purpose? What is she trying to accomplish? So far, we’ve had nothing to tell us why she is what she is. Why she’s as powerful as she is, or even what her connection to Luke and the Skywalker bloodline really is. She’s very well acted – but in the grand scheme of things, it feels like she’s pointless. It doesn’t feel like she’s that important to the world and to the rebellion around her – while, once again looking at Luke, he was a key player in the Rebellion. A brilliant pilot who was instrumental in the destruction of the Death Star, a powerful Jedi, and the son of the second-in-command of the Galactic Empire. He had purpose. There was a reason why he was important to the story and the people around him. And each installment built on his importance with an extra layer to who he was.

Rey? She means the exact same from TFA to TLJ – hardly any growth, and nothing explained as to why she is what she is, or really even what for that matter.

To me, the only characters that make sense are Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and Finn. Ben Solo really should have been the focus of the trilogy – born of Skywalker blood, lured in by the Dark Side of the Force, yet unsure of himself and how evil he actually he is. He just wants to be something – and to prove himself to those around him and the galaxy. He’s seen as a temperamental child, and he acts the part – but while Anakin had been totally torn down and rebuilt in the image of the Dark Side – both metaphorically and literally – Ben is just a conflicted young adult.

Why wasn’t he the key focus of the trilogy? A Skywalker torn between the image of Darth Vader and the reality of Anakin and Luke. Desperate for power and a place in the world but still unable to kill his mother and only driven away because he thought he had been betrayed by his uncle?

And Finn, a meaningless, nobody clone who had always been in the First Order but pulled himself away knowing that he wasn’t like them – and chose good over evil.

They have purpose. They have reason. They can be built upon – but where’s the foundation for Rey, our main protagonist and the keeper of the flame of the Jedi after TLJ? It isn’t there. There isn’t a point, at least a point that is planned out, thought out, and then executed.

This is my problem with a great deal of the new Star Wars’ movies – a lack of a point. The Death Star had a great deal of history and gravity. Starkiller Base? Not so much. The Galactic Empire had a reason and a purpose – the First Order? Just being evil, I guess, led by a villain who never got to make their point before being Darth Mauled into irrelevance. They build up these things as huge, important plot points and never pay them off – and that’s just not fair to the audience.

Now, this could all be rendered null by December 2019.

The 9th film may show us that Kylo and Rey were being utilized by the Force to create a union between the Dark and the Light, forcing the end of the Jedi and the Sith, who have caused too much pain, war, and death in the universe. It might explain that after all these years, the Force was trying to bridge that divide – the Force is a force of life, after all, and having two religions that create a divide between Light and Dark just make death. Kylo and Rey were the vessels to do so – and together, instead of toppling the First Order, they rule it together and restructure it, creating a new Republic that isn’t fixated on the ideals of the Sith or the Jedi. No more old religions, no more Empires and Rebellions – just unity.

Or, it might not. It might be vague plot points and pointless exposition or not enough exposition and a lot of fighting without any purpose or reason to fight and end without any satisfying resolution to lead to another trilogy where they do things just for the sake of doing them – without any rhyme or reason or story to back them up.

Like I said before, I do enjoy the new movies – quite a lot, if we’re being honest. But I’ve just been thinking a lot about these things and wanted to voice them a bit and get my thoughts out so they weren’t just echoing around my head. I’m hoping that I’m wrong – that come 2019, all will be revealed and everything will come full circle and we’ll be able to look at the trilogy as set of movies that tell a specific story for a specific reason. It’s just that beforehand, each movie told a specific story while contributing to an overarching trilogy plot point – which is something that, as of right now, the current trilogy of movies can’t very well say.

But I’m optimistic – if not with life, than at least with Star Wars, haha.

And as with everything else, here’s looking to the future.

Happy holidays.

 

 

Blind Faith

I envy those who can have it. The types of people who don’t need anything other than what they believe themselves to feel within – they don’t need reassurance, they don’t need evidence, they don’t need answers. They just understand. They believe they know.

And that’s enough.

Of course, this could be taken a multitude of different ways. Blind faith in a leader, or in an organization, or a religion – frequently a combination of all three. Or perhaps just the other side of the coin to anxiety – not having to worry about every single last little thing there is, and just knowing that all will be alright. Being able to close your eyes and let the universe take you – as it tends to unfold as it should.

I am not a religious man. After years of struggle and contemplation, I am an unswayed agnostic. I never could quite bring myself to make the delve into calling myself an atheist, only because I believe that it would be rather arrogant – I can’t say that there is a god, but who am I to say there isn’t at all? I don’t have the answers and I don’t claim to – I just have the information available and I use it to the best of my understanding.

I used to identify as a Christian. I did so right on this very blog, in a post talking about theocracy in America a couple years back. I am uncomfortable with that moniker – as I don’t like modern Christian thought in the slightest. I think Christians are rather un-Christlike. But I do know there are exceptions to the rule, to some extent – I currently date someone who would be categorized as an Evangelical Christian.

She’s not as hardcore when it comes to a lot of stuff. She’s politically liberal, as well. It’s just that her religious beliefs hang on that side, as do the majority of her family. She was raised in a home where it was taught as fact, with little outside influence. They’re also very traditional in their beliefs, unlike her – the fact that we live together outside of marriage is a particular point of contention, despite this being the year of our probably non-existent lord, 2017, and a rather common part of society.

The issue is, though, is that that doesn’t matter. Society doesn’t matter. The world doesn’t matter. Only the perceived word of god, timeless and everlasting.

Blind faith.

They don’t like me very much – her father is fairly accepting of me, her mom is a little further away – and her extended family just tries not to think I exist. It stings a particular bit more when my side of the family – also fairly religious – tends to accept her with open arms. Even my staunch Conservative grandmother who doesn’t like us living together loves her dearly. Yet her side doesn’t want much to do with me.

At what point does this become an issue, or does it at all? Can one enjoy a long-term relationship with such contention on one side due to a fairly significant difference? The plan is to marry this girl – but how can you go through a life together while also trying to constantly avoid a good chunk of family?

I wonder how it would go. I can spot little details already – if I tag her in a couple’s photo or something on Facebook where her friends can see it, her side of the family comments something about her, ignoring the fact that it was either posted by me or includes me. On the flip side, the side of her family that isn’t very religious tends to talk about us as a couple, as a group, as a union. It may seem trivial, but I find it to be an interesting comparison – and it really shows me that, despite it never being said out loud, the big elephant in the room to them is the religious difference.

Is it significant? To a degree, but is it completely unworkable?
I’d like to think not. Sometimes I wish I could just close my eyes together real hard and when I open them back up, suddenly I understand why belief in a god is still incredibly relevant in modern society. It would honestly solve a lot of issues – both internal and external.

But as I’ve gotten older and strayed away from religion, the ability to have blind faith has withered away. Maybe it’s cynicism. Maybe it’s residual angst. Hell, maybe it’s just depression, back at it again. But I can’t stand and say that I know everything will be okay, that everything will work out right. That I’ll be fine and do great things and that my significant other’s side of the family hating me doesn’t affect me when it really does. That I could go to church and feel like a deity has my back and not feel like I’m screaming at a void.

I pity those with blind faith and other times – for different reasons – I wish that I had it.

If I don’t end up posting again before the new year, happy holidays.

Things may be rough and you may feel terrible, and that’s okay. You have a right to feel those things. You have a right to feel those emotions run through you and understand them. I don’t know what is inside your head, but just know that even though things seem so bleak and out of focus – you’re not cursed. You’re not alone. You are you for all that you are with some brain chemicals that are a bit out of sync.
At the end of the day – we’ll all be okay.

Even if takes a little longer for some than others.