It is no exaggeration for me to say the original Star Wars movie – “Episode IV: A New Hope” – completely changed my life when I watched it in the theater as a child in the 1970s. In this day and age of digital wizardry, it’s difficult for some people to imagine that when that movie came out, we had never seen anything like it before. It was magical, literally alien to all of us who were mesmerized by it. I never saw the world the same way again after seeing it for the first time.

I’ve heard others describe seeing Jimi Hendrix play guitar live or hearing Richard Pryor perform standup comedy early in his career the same way. There just wasn’t anything to compare those experiences to. There is such a magical quality to those type of life events. They become the measuring sticks for all other events which follow. In my case, Star Trek never measured up to Star Wars. For others, Edward Van Halen may never have stacked up against Hendrix or Jerry Seinfeld was never as funny as Pryor in his prime.

The only problem that arises after experiences such as these is finding something to match them afterwards. Fortunately, with Star Wars, we were blessed with two more excellent movies, one of which (“Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”) may have actually may have exceeded the first in quality. Unfortunately, we were also, um, “blessed” with Episodes I, II, and III, which were far, far below the standards set by the original trilogy. As a result, this Star Wars fan severely tempered his expectations for the newly-released “Episode VII – The Force Awakens.”

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I’m happy to report after seeing the film last night that it is really, really good. A strange thing happened as I was watching it, though, and it’s difficult to describe today. I noticed as the movie went on, I found myself sort of detaching from what was going on. I don’t mean I wasn’t paying attention or that I wasn’t entertained. I just noticed I didn’t have that magical feeling I did watching the original three movies all those years ago. I didn’t feel the exhiliriation rising up my stomach. I kept searching for it, but it just never came.

As much as I wanted to blame my lack of expectations or the late hour I was watching the movie or any other circumstance I could think of to justify the way I was feeling, I realized on the drive home it had to do with one thing – I am just at a different point in my life now. When I saw those original three movies, I was just a kid. I hadn’t been touched yet by depression and life and schedules and worries and pressures. What I was seeing on the screen was everything. In a season where everything feels gray, “The Force Awakens” had to compete with all the other sounds and images in my head. Again, it was really, really good. It just wasn’t everything to me like that first experience was.

That, I believe, is the weight that glory carries. The circumstances have to be exactly right for us to touch it. Sometimes, everything aligns and every feeling comes into complete harmony and something is produced we can barely explain in human terms. We are lifted to a plane we did not even know existed. I’m sure many people who watched “The Force Awakens” had that very experience last night. At other times, though, something is out of line, and we veer away from the heights we have known before. Reaching glory is a marvelous experience, but it does not happen every day. That is a lesson I have had to learn.

That is also why I can confidently say that if you are a Star Wars fan, you will not be disappointed with “The Force Awakens.” It is light years better than any of the prequel movies, and it does a very nice job of introducing the new cast of characters. I don’t want to say much more because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. My experience with the movie was simply my own, and these are just the ruminations of someone struggling to work his way out of a very dark place at the moment. Glory is difficult to attain when you feel numb inside.

If you are battling the type of depression that is stealing your joy and excitement for life right now, please know that my prayers are with you. With Christmas approaching, that feeling must be amplified ten-fold. While The Force might not be with you, know that there are scores of people just like myself that are. We’re all looking for the glory right now. We might not find it in a crowded movie theater, but we know it’s out there somewhere. I hope it finds each and every one of us soon.

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Hey, don’t forget, you can email me now at info@lightsinthedarkness.net. I’d love to hear from you!

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