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1997-1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002+

"The Force" of Love: A Valentine's Day Editorial

Pity poor Luke Skywalker: his life has been anything but easy since the day Uncle Owen bought those two droids.

First, he loses his home and the only family he'd known. Then, he loses Obi-Wan. A few years later he loses his right hand to his mortal enemy? who turns out to be his dad! He almost winds up a Sarlacc snack before getting the mother of all electric bills from the Emperor. And it didn't stop there: ever since the Empire collapsed, Luke's been trying to pull the Jedi back together while fending off superweapons, alien threats, and more nonsense than he can shake a gaffi stick at.

But the most unkind cut of all is that, after enduring so much and saving the galaxy every morning before breakfast? Luke never had a girl.

It must have been hard to be the only existing Jedi, and see Han and Leia find their happiness. It didn't help things at all that Timothy Zahn - and almost every writer who followed - would dangle that same carrot before Luke, only to cruelly yank it away. With every girl he cared for - from the one who turned out to be his own sister, to Mara Jade, to Callista - something happened that ground the merry chase to a halt. Zahn commented that there was this legend of the "Luke curse": that he would never find true romance. Luke was damned to walk eternally alone, it seemed.

But there was method to the madness: Zahn had always intended for there to be one girl in Luke's destiny (even though she wanted to KILL him first). And every writer thereafter was working toward the day Zahn (or maybe the Force) had ordained: when Luke would marry Mara Jade.

For Valentine's Day, I thought an editorial on love would be in order. "Valentine's Day"? how more ridiculous a holiday could there be? If you love someone, you shouldn't honor that commitment one day out of the year, but everyday. Valentine's Day seems either redundant or cheapening to the idea of love. How the heck is it that we celebrate the beheading of a 4th-century martyr by giving chocolates to our sweethearts, anyway? According to the Catholic Encyclopedia there wasn't even one Saint Valentine, but three: all of 'em suffering horrible heinous death at the hands of those wacky Romans.

Forget that love crap! I'm celebrating this year in real style: watching the Godfather trilogy and "The Untouchables"? hey, it's the anniversary of the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, right?

Well, not exactly, because I do have a reason to celebrate love this year. A while back in this space I wrote about finding life again, when it seems there's no reason to go on living. Since then God has put someone very special in my life, someone who has helped to heal that wound and re-ignite my own desire to live fully. Her name is Lisa, and she's the sweetest, most beautiful young woman a guy could have asked for in a girlfriend.

How did that happen? I have no idea, except God decided one day to put this girl genius at the University of Georgia together with a free-wheeling rogue from backwater North Carolina. And there's no doubt that God did it: Lisa entered the picture at the lowest point in my life. I'd been distracted by so many other things that having a girlfriend was nowhere on the radar screen. Nor was she looking for a boyfriend. Neither of us had been in a relationship at all before. I couldn't even imagine life with a girlfriend? but a short time later and I can't imagine it without Lisa being there.

So what's being in love like? It's GREAT! In the past few months we've done everything together: from watching Stomp in concert, to spending New Years Eve at my parents place, to seeing "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (if you haven't done so, stop right now, go find a theater playing "Crouching Tiger", pay whatever it takes for the ticket and outrageously overpriced confectionary, watch the flick and come back and resume reading), to a hundred other little things. Lisa is teaching me about music and (shudder) how to cook? she deserves a Congressional Medal of Honor just for that, as atrocious as my culinary skills are. A few months ago, I got to enjoy watching her see the Star Wars movies for the first time in her life: she loved it! Heh-heh? can't wait to see her reaction at the SW Celebration next year ;-)

Being in love is wonderful, and if you've been so blessed as to already find that one person in your life, I congratulate you. But I want to direct this editorial to those who haven't been so lucky? yet. You see, I've been where you are, and that's not a fun place to be when you're wondering if there's anyone out there for you. Sometimes doubting if there's anything right with you at all. I can't brag about my relationship with Lisa, because it came from God and not me, and because I know what it's like to feel "the odd man (or odd girl) out". There are times when we have felt like Luke must have: wondering what happiness life had to offer, when we seem to pour out everything for it with no return.

When it comes to love, heed the words of Yoda: "Patience!" It's not just for the Force, it's for everything else in life as well? especially finding that right person to spend the rest of your life with. Be patient and KNOW that yes, there is someone out there who is perfect for you. You are looking for her (or him), just as much as she (or he) is looking for you. Someday, before you even know it, you are going to meet each other (but hopefully they won't have a serious hatred of you like Mara did to Luke at first ;-)

In the meantime, you DO have a life now, with or without someone at your side! Having a relationship isn't the beginning of life, but just a new stage in life. Life is what you make of it at this moment. Would Luke have felt a bit of remorse during that time? Almost certainly? he's human, after all. But he chose to plow over that remorse by jumping headlong into whatever action needed him. You've got someplace that needs you too? remember that, you're NEEDED somewhere now. And people who need you: you may not have that one person you're looking for right now, but examine your life, and count how many people do care for you. Yeah, maybe it's not perfect now, but consider this your "Padawan training" cycle for when you're ready to take the trials. Enjoy this time while it lasts, kid? you'll need it!

And when you do find that person you love, remember patience? now more than ever. You've been given a precious gift? don't take anything from it that you're not ready for, but enjoy that relationship for its own sake. I say this because we have an unhealthy tendency in our culture to focus on the physical aspect of a relationship rather than the spiritual. But whatever we do physically, that's not real love. That's only an expression of love. And there are some things physically we might want now, but there's a time and a place for them? namely, with the person you know you're going to spend the rest of your life with, starting with your wedding. It's hard, but it's a patience that will be well-rewarded. I'll share this: Lisa and I have resolved not to kiss each other until the preacher says "you may kiss the bride", and it will be the first kiss for either of us. Every day that my love grows for her, makes that future kiss all the more sweet. So patience is a good thing? hey, whoever said you couldn't learn anything from a Star Wars movie?

And don't let anyone give you that crap about being a "fanboy" either! Belonging to this illustrious group has never hurt anyone romantically, not really? and in fact, it adds to your character! Your love of Star Wars is part of who you are, and if someone else is going to be sincere in their love for you, they'll accept that part about you? the part that likes to collect action figures and dress up as a Jedi on Halloween. Most people play the game of life for the money? we're in it for the love, man!

Just like the Force, love can have a Dark Side. Don't be quick and eager? choose the Light Side! And don't have any regrets if something's gone wrong with love? Anakin came back, and so can you. But here's a secret I'll share with you, for finding love: don't! Let love find you instead. And you will find love, when you are no longer looking at life in reference to yourself. When you are content with where you are now, that you aren't searching for any other reason to live, but can simply be fully alive.

When you get to that place, you're gonna find the girl or gal of your dreams, and you're gonna ask yourself where all that time waiting disappeared to ;-)

If you want some REALLY good reading about love and relationships, Chris strongly recommends I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris

Chris Knight
February 13th, 2001

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