“You have a problem,” my husband declares.
He’s probably right. Another shirt with a Princess Leia graphic has just arrived in the mail. As I try it on, I must admit (again) I have a thriving Star Wars addiction. Further proof: My license plate is FORCBWU. My right arm bears a tattoo, words of the Buddha lettered in Aurebesh. And I claim Jedi as one of my many spiritual paths.
The effect of Leia on my generation cannot be underscored. Our initial introduction to this “damsel in distress” was a mirror for the tension between changing masculine and feminine roles in our society. She was a rare female hero in a world of male superheroes. As we aged, and more episodes of Star Wars were revealed, Leia seemed to grow stronger as female roles grew stronger around us. In fact, since Carrie Fisher’s death, the cult of Leia is increasing. Archetype and human incarnation have merged posthumously into an iconic figure: It’s hard to separate the actress from the role from the archetype.
Both my husband and I concur that my Star Wars addiction is a much healthier one than those I’ve previously battled. Since finding 12-step recovery, I’ve joined so many fellowships, one of my sponsees chided me, “You need a 12-step group for 12-step groups.” And she’s not wrong. When it works, I work it.
A few years into my journey, I stumbled upon Carrie Fisher’s book, Wishful Drinking. As I read about her struggles with addiction and mental wellness, my connection to the woman behind the role grew, as I battled both addiction and the stigma attached to depression and hypomania (which I refer to as having occasional strong fluctuations in my Force). When Carrie died, I was attending an Interfaith Seminary (that I lovingly refer to as “Serenity School”) to extend my “being of service” further into the world.
As I studied the world’s philosophical, spiritual, and religious traditions, I realized wisdom can come from innumerable places in the Galaxy. Within my day, I’m as likely to draw on the knowledge of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, or Leia as I am from the Buddha, Krishna, or Jesus. Ancient and modern epics share the same underlying values: the search for meaning and “right balance” in living.
Recently, I hopped onto my meditation cushion and looked inward, opening my mystical third eye to the Force on the topic of recovery. Not surprisingly, lessons appeared in the words of the Princess:
- “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
Leia tossed these words at Han as he flew into (what he thinks is) a cave, but instead is a giant space worm. It’s hard to admit we don’t always know what we’re doing. Tuning in to our intuition can help us tap into the wisdom within, bringing answers into clarity. Mindfulness and meditation strengthen our ability to sort through the 60,000 thoughts that whizz at hyperspeed through our minds daily.
Lesson: Even though we may not always know what we’re doing, we can strengthen our intuitive sense of what is healthy for us by pausing to take thoughtful actions rather than jumping into situations reactively. Meditation classes, books, and apps abound to help us tap into the Force around us.
- “Someone has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, fly boy.”
So says Leia to Han as she takes over the reins of her own rescue. Which reminds us, we can’t spend all our time on the mat or in self-reflection. While we may have strong beliefs about our Higher Power’s will, dharma and karma, or our higher purpose, without insight and action, life can become stagnate.
Lesson: Discernment of the path forward may indeed require sorting through some garbage. Once cleaned up, our future actions matter, guiding our destinies.
- “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”
In this quintessential Leia quote, there is no damsel in distress. Instead, there is considerable strength in her words. We live a connected life (and I don’t just mean our tech¾think quantum entanglement). We can’t do everything on our own. And if we could, we shouldn’t. A strong recovery requires enlisting others.
Lesson: Our hope to be happy, joyous, and free is rooted in connecting with each other. Together we can create father-reaching impacts on ourselves, others, and the world than we can alone.