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May the Force Be With Us

(Warning, there are spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen The Last Jedi)

On Christmas morning, before everyone else had finished unwrapping their presents, Mom and I went to see the latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. We’d already had Chinese food for Christmas Eve dinner, and watched everything the Hallmark channel had to offer, so a movie and a bucket of popcorn were the next obvious Christmas rites for our Jewish family.


“Why can’t I go to the movie too?”

Sometimes I think that the Star Wars universe has as much to do with my world view as anything I learned in my Jewish Day School. The idea of the Force, an energy that exists within us and that connects everything in the universe, has always felt right to me; and the movies about the people who access it, and reject it, have always resonated for me as much as, or let’s admit it, more than, any bible story.

My first experience with the Star Wars universe was at age seven, when Return of the Jedi came out in theaters and my family went to the opening weekend. Jabba the Hutt stared down at me from the screen, dragging Princess Leia by a chain, eating unmentionable things, and laughing at what he could make people do. I fell asleep, because it was late, or because I was terrified, and I missed the Ewoks, my whole reason for going to see the movie. But Jabba was part of the resonance of the movies too: the darkness, the violence, the betrayals, were all real to me, as was the feeling that I might actually be alone in the universe; not just in my school, or my hometown, but in the whole freakin’ universe.

Anyway, we arrived at the theater early to see The Last Jedi, because there was no one on the roads on Christmas morning. It took a while for the movie theatre staff to catch up with us, so we were first on line for popcorn when they got there, and since we had nowhere else to go, we sat in our oddly uncomfortable reclining seats and watched half an hour’s worth of commercials and previews. Thank God for the bucket of popcorn. Except, I didn’t buy anything to drink, because I knew I couldn’t pause the movie for a pee break, so I was left with that puckery feeling in my mouth that made me wonder why I kept eating the excessively salty popcorn, seemingly against my will. There’s gotta be something added to movie theater popcorn that makes it addictive, but I don’t know what it is. Clearly this has something to do with the power of the dark side.

Finally, the iconic Star Wars music started blasting out of the speakers, and then the golden storytelling script was reeling back into space, and we were off!

I need to get this out of the way first: The Last Jedi is not a perfect movie. Someone forgot to edit the script, and managed to leave in nine or ten acts instead of the customary three or five. The movie seemed to end so many times that when it finally did end, I was suspicious. I thought another act might start to unfold under the credits. I can sort of understand the multiple almost-endings, because they gave all of the heroes and heroines a chance to save the day at least once. Sure, Rey is the titular Last Jedi, but there’s also Rose and Finn, and Poe and BB8 and Leia and, of course, Luke, and those icicle dogs, and Laura Dern, out of nowhere. But despite all of that, the movie worked for me.

I was worried that the long awaited return of Luke Skywalker would be a disappointment; that maybe he would be too bland or perfect in his old age. Instead, he was wonderfully grumpy, and he held the central message of the movie: you never lose people, even if they are far away, and even after death. That was a message I really needed to hear. Other characters filled out that message too, explaining it as part of the force. Yes, one of the bad guys creates the initial “bridge” between Kylo Ren and Rey, but there are other bridges that he has no role in, and even that one goes beyond his control.


The force was strong with this one.

I’ve had moments like that in my life, where I’ve almost felt like I could touch the hand of someone far away, or hear the voice of someone long gone. I can’t always tap into that network of everything, but when I can it is powerful, and bittersweet, because while you feel the connection, you feel the distance even more.


There’s something fitting about delving into the Star Wars universe during this time between the end of one year and the beginning of the next. This space is often filled with grief for what we’ve lost, and the darkness of winter, but there’s also hope and a sense of continuity. We sit in the movie theater and the music continues to play through the credits, and we know that the story will continue to unfold, soon.


Cricket is waiting.





About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

66 responses »

  1. I tried to keep up with the Star Wars saga, really I did, but the first one (or the 4th one) came out when I was 22, then my son got caught up in them so maybe I “saw” them vicariously through him. He did also see this one, and Ben Shapiro wrote the best review of it i’ve read but yours seriously challenges his.

  2. I can’t relate to the movie series, because I’ve only seen the first two or three. But I relate to the use of the force, refusal of the force, and being able to feel the connection with loved ones. I’m glad you feel it too.

  3. I was very moved by that poignant final photo of Cricket looking out. For Butterfly? For the next companion? Happy secular New Year.

  4. I finally saw the movie today and I love your post about it an about the different meanings. Thanks for sharing this. I’m anxious to see what unfolds next in the movie and in life.

  5. I have never been a Star Wars fan (nor a Star Trek fan, either–although I am scolded when I confuse them), but I love your take away from the movie–that we never lose people (or pets) even after death. That is a heart-warmer for me. That last photo of Cricket–melts my heart. Happy New Year to you, Cricket and your mom. Much love.

  6. I ended my involvement with Star Wars with the last movie and now with the death of Carrie Fisher, I’m just not invested in learning a whole new cast and trying to replace my mind’s script with new players and writers and all…but I’m glad you got a powerful message from The Last Jedi and that you shared it with us. May the Force (good force of course) be with you into 2018 and you continue to write your weekly Cricket page. I look forward with great anticipation to seeing what’s going on in your world. Thanks! 🙂

  7. Well written! I can’t imagine how many hours you must have been sitting in front of the Hallmark Channel though; it seems the Christmas movies never end.

  8. I am so confused by this series of movies that even your spoilers didn’t ruin anything for me. I’m going to arm myself with synopses of all of the movies and a list of characters before I see this one. I mean, even though they confuse me, I have to see them. On another note, I feel departed loved ones around me, too. I swear that my recently deceased dog showed up as a lunatic bug on my vanity as I was getting made up. The crazy bug kept waving his arms at me to get my attention.

  9. I haven’t seen a single Star Wars movie, but I identify with the power of the dark side and the lure of popcorn (chocolate in my case)! Wishing you all the best for the New Year.

  10. An interesting look at life compared to Star Wars. I’m glad you enjoyed the film, Rachel. I haven’t seen any of those since ‘The Empire Strikes back’. I can only do so many of any film franchise.
    Best wishes to you, Pete.

  11. Your writing is so relatable, and I enjoy reading your posts; I’m beginning to think it is the force 😉

  12. I’m not a huge Star Wars fan and have stopped watching a bit ago….but I definitely think Cricket should get to go to the movies 😉

  13. Star Wars now is definitely not my scene I’m afraid, probably because I remember the very first, second and third (later 4th 5th and 6th) outings. I got confused, and like X Men, trying to put new faces to old favourites or follow the story line of those who died then didn’t, became too much like hard work! Happy New Year Rachel. May it bring you peace and joy. 🙂

  14. I love Star wars, I got the actuel droid Bb8 for me, the child at heart had to have it. Beautiful post Rachel, Butterfly is reading in doggie heaven. May all your days in 2018 be blessed ❤️ for you cricket!

  15. Happy New Year. May all your dreams come true and your wishes be granted.


    The Cat

  16. I Love Star Wars! My first was The first when I was ten years old and I’ll never forget it. Your writing is spot on, so many endings, grumpiness and hope, so much hope. And it is the perfect moment of the year for it. Happy New Years Rachel, to you and your Mom and Cricket. May the force be with you in 2018 and beyond! 😊

  17. I’m with you with the feeling of an identity to any films that refer to connecting life energy. I loved Avatar for this reason. I’ve not seen the new star wars film. I grew up on the classic episodes so will look forward to getting round to seeing it.
    Glad you had a lovely Christmas 😊 Happy New Year to you x

  18. I think you are right about the popcorn, Rachel, as I am now sitting here drooling on my keyboard, jonesing theater popcorn. Beautiful read, as always. Perhaps Cricket will get to watch the movie on the TV when it comes out on video.

  19. Totally agree with you about the movie. It had its flaws but overall, I loved it.

  20. Ya know, that sounds like a fantastic way to spend Christmas Day. I spent the morning with family. They like to sit and make fun of other people, and now that I’m old enough to know it does no good to chew their asses out over it (if it did, they’ve have stopped their boorish behavior a long time ago), I figured I may as well wash the dishes instead. And so I did. Happy New Year!

  21. We too sneaked (I think “snuck” should be the past tense) out to the movie early. As always, I was most fascinated with all the “creatures,” as would have been Lulu if allowed to attend. Well, those would have been second to the highlight for her – the popcorn. Great post!

  22. “There’s something fitting about delving into the Star Wars universe during this time between the end of one year and the beginning of the next. This space is often filled with grief for what we’ve lost, and the darkness of winter, but there’s also hope and a sense of continuity. We sit in the movie theater and the music continues to play through the credits, and we know that the story will continue to unfold, soon.”
    An excellent analogy of life’s journeys we encounter Rachel. I despise this time of the year because of the loss in my family but I just know that every morning will bring a new focus on the day ahead. I appreciate every single day on this earth and try to make the best of what comes along, starting with tending my vegetable garden in the early morning when the air is filled with birdsong from the variety of parrots that visit our country property. I tend the soil and appreciate what I do have and try to put aside the loss. I think this is all we can do. We are custodians of everything in this life, including our very own life. We have to make the most of it all and appreciate what we have when we have it, I think.

    • Thank you! We often focus on happiness and joy as the only valuable states to be in, but there’s a whole range of feelings that deserve out time and attention, and make life richer and deeper.

  23. A great story echoes the greatest story of all.

    God said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31: 3). He said, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29: 11). And He added, “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19: 18).

    There is a space inside us only God can fill. Other things may trigger that yearning. But they cannot still that hunger.

    Wishing you a wonderful New Year! ❤

  24. Beyond the movie you provided us with a lot of thoughtful musings. Thanks. The Force is with you – and I hope for the year to come.

  25. Enjoyed your enjoyment. Happy New Year.

  26. You needed some relaxation after the year you’ve had. Hope you have a much better 2018.

  27. Thanks for sharing your Star Wars experience with us. I am not a fan but I enjoyi watching some of the movies, especially the first two, which are no longer the first two and at that point, I got lost. There are so great, resonating lines throughout the Star Wars movies and I’e particularly loved some of Yoda’s insights. We named one of our foster pups, Yoda, and he certainly seemed to have more wisdom than his brother, Dobby, the errant sock thief.
    I loved what you said: “while you feel the connection, you feel the distance even more.” This time of year is both good and bad for that. I want to remember the memories, but not the deep sense of loss. I missed my grandparents a lot this Christmas. I missed writing them a Christmas card and letter, which was such a part of Christmas it appears in hindsight.
    It can be tempting at times to shut off those memories and feelings and focus on the here and now, but we pay a price and it is much better to navigate those challenging emotions take them forward, than shutting them away where they can’t be a part of the everyday.
    Rachel, I hope you, Butterfly and Cricket have a wonder-filled new year.
    Best wishes,

  28. The Force is always within your writing, and I can feel a deep connection.
    Be brave in 2018 – you have new worlds to conquer.
    Happy New Year, my friend.

  29. Oh my! My first experience with the Star Wars universe was at age nine when Star Wars came out. My parents had decided that we were not going to celebrate Halloween and we went to the movies instead. You are a yungin’! I actually did not realize that.

  30. may you feel a joyful force
    during this current 2018 war 🙂

  31. I just love your story telling ability. You, my friend, are a brilliant writer. Don’t tell anyone I told you that, cause we all want to keep reading your musings for free!


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